No matter how many generations
our forebears lived in a country
we are always seen by many
as those who can’t belong:
the outsider on whom can hang
any mask of what’s forbidden,
nasty, below contempt. Seen
at once as weak and dangerous
we can be attacked righteously,
hate as patriotic virtue, religious
entitlement. We think we’re safe,
assimilated, at home, belonging.
Then we’re killed just for something
Invisible, nothing done or said.
Because of our mothers’ identity.
Once again look over our shoulders.
Once again lock our doors tight.
Stay quiet in public. Change your
name. Consider moving across
a border. Teach your children fear.
Marge Piercy has published 17 novels, including the New York Times Best Seller Gone to Soldiers and He, She and It, winner of the 1993 Arthur C. Clark Award. In addition to her novels, Piercy has written 19 volumes of poetry and a memoir, Sleeping with Cats. She is an engaged antiwar, feminist and environmental activist.