Short film by Hope Fa-Kaji
A Bill for the relief of Mary Therese Chen, also known as Chen Li Chen
1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa
2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
3 That, for the purposes of the Immigration and Nationality
4 Act, Mary Therese Chen, also known as Chen Li Chen, shall
5 be held and considered to have been lawfully admitted to the
6 United States for permanent residence…
it doesn’t make for a good story but i don’t remember much about my grandma. just the few things that a person can learn before age four, like how to say mother’s mother in mandarin.
i remember a room in the back of the house sectioned off for a bed that filled the room. i don’t know how so many of us also fit inside with that bed, so large in the center. perhaps it was pushed against the wall and we crammed around the edges? i don’t remember. but in my mind when i try to pull it forward, i hear the heart rate monitor–a steady metronome, telling everyone the time. these details might come from a dream. one that sought to recreate the arid air and the paralysis of breathing next to so big a bed.
i remember another time being in the living room alone with her. it’s strange, because alone was exceedingly hard to come by with so many cousins. we were alone together, on the carpet plush (the same thickness and softness in its flowers as the band of the stocking she crocheted my name into, right above the panda bear in a sock hat). she was kneeling on the carpet, helping my clumsy fists tear the paper away from my brand new bright red tricycle. my favorite color was red back then. red, red, radio flyer red. i pedaled up our narrow driveway in radio flyer red.
i don’t remember much.
but i go to a school with the bills paid for by her years of social work and saving. her loving accruing over time. a wild strawberry on its long stem could be the popsicle she had ready every time we came in the house through the garage door.
I hear about the Supreme Court issuing a stay
on the injunction that
blocked the public charge rule that
included many many more lives
And one word stayed with me, stronger than memory.
Stronger than recalling a dream I’m not sure I had.
Like we stay in our house
All my friends say they are doing it
They are worried about their grandparents
They don’t want something to happen to their grandparents
Like a body in bed
Like cancer in the colon
Like a tricycle on track
The real problem here is the increasingly common practice of trial courts ordering relief I concur in the court’s decision to issue a stay
She’s here and she’s come back to stay
If you liked this poem and would like to help more writers like this publish their work, please consider supporting our writers and artists by becoming a member HERE.
Hope Fa-Kaji is a third generation Chinese American and fourth generation Japanese American, and one of five sisters. Partially due to growing up in a big family, she didn't always feel a personal sense of urgency to learn her family history. However, after the passing of her grandparents, her parents became the primary family historians. Fa-Kaji's work attempts to think through the stories that are now passed down to her generation, alongside larger questions of identity and justice. She works as an equipment engineer in Richardson, TX and has pieces upcoming in Academy of the Heart and Mind.