dear america, by Mansi Dahal

dear america,
i have the urge to start a poem with dear mansi
but i don’t know how to offer tenderness to myself
but to you, i offer all of my dearness
my sack full of dreams
my eyes, my skin, my memory
so even though i will never feel complete
in this country, i hope my writing will.


dear america,
this morning nepal is declared the happiest country
in south asia. so when they ask me what is the population
of nepal, i tell them we are all happy there.
when they ask me where my hometown is located
i tell them we are all happy there.
when they ask me why do people leave nepal
i tell them we are all happy there.
when they ask me, why do i write poems, i tell them
sometimes somebody else’s hurt hurts me more than my own hurt


dear america,
my grandfather often says
that i left for america in a jet plane
for him, all airplanes do is take his
grandchildren away to a far, far land.
and, when the yellow makai is fried
in the black karai with ghyu,
he blames the airplanes
for not being able to feed his grandkids
their favorite food. dear america, do you have time
for my grandfather’s stories?


dear america,
when my eleven years old sister sees me apply pink
lipstick in the video call, she says ewww you are a soft girl
and i think about that the whole day. in the train i notice my pink
sandals, in the cafe, my pink mixed berries iced tea, in the mirror
my pink velvety t-shirt. so the next day, i ask her
kaya what’s the opposite of a soft girl. she says electronic girl
and to be that i need to wear black, lick and breathe grunge
but even if i do that my wounds will always be fresh pink
because i poke them right before they dry. my voice trembles
and aama reminds me, “you are the tigress.” yes aama,
a soft tigress. soft like algae just formed next to the river in america.


where are you going?
dear america,
here, i am growing old waiting for my first spring


dear america,
there was once a girl
who took one train
to go to kathak classes
or cafes to write
to become a writer
to forget her lover
one day she left
but the city kept growing
without her.
tell me, america, will you remember her?

Mansi Dahal is a writer from Nepal earning her MFA at Columbia University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY, Colorado Review, Palette Poetry, Cauldron and elsewhere. She graduated from Kalamazoo College with a BA in English and a concentration in Media and Film Studies. Currently, she is the editor-in-chief of Some Kind Of Opening (SKOO).