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Kavya Makam

Borders

It began when we were young.


The line drawn in the sand,
the door that locked,
the picket fence dividing


my yard from yours.
Always an invisible
barrier hovered.


I remember when Andhra Pradesh split.
India had formed a new crack.
Between Telangana and Rayalaseema.


Between my mother’s land and my father’s.
One state. Now two.


My relatives, squabbling.
Halved, quartered, fractioned.
Another slice in one country.


I was too American to fully understand.


I only saw another line,
drawn again
in the sand.


Television images flashed.
Again and again
there were soldiers linking arms.


So proud of land that was theirs.
Not to be confused with the land of ours.


Our ancestors snuck
between their legs,


while I ran, yelling “red rover”
into the linked arms
of the other team.


Me and my ancestors
ran from one lawn to another,
never risked going back.


Secret passwords won’t work here.
The picket fence rose up.


Living room entertainment,
story after story.
Mothers panting, quietly, carefully.
Breathing through their nose.


To cross border after border.
Which one, I did not know.


Meanwhile, I hopped picket fences
to the rich neighborhood’s pool.


And when the foreign men,
the ones I saw in my own reflection,
drove the planes down
into our American dream,


the next year
my grandmother
was denied a visa.


I heard a door lock.


Those soldiers—
they took a divide and built a trench,
soaked the desert in blood.


Re-drawing the lines
over and over again.
Picket fences rose too tall.


I was too American to not understand.


My ancestors confused
which yard was whose.


Children born of both worlds
were cut in half.
A line drawn down their body.


They took the loaf
sliced it thin
disposed of the bread
and looked for the next thing to cut.

About the Author

Kavya Makam is an English undergrad at Cal Poly SLO and IVC Alum. At IVC she was lucky enough to be a poetry student of Virginia Shank and work on The Ear. She wrote “Borders” meditating on connections between identity, feelings of belonging, and the tensions that subsequently arise.

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