Assimilation

I.

 

My name is too hard

for you to pronounce

so I changed it.

 

My hair is too wild so I

tamed it.

 

My clothes are too

strange so

I wear yours.

 

My skin is

too dark

so I lightened it.

 

My tongue is wrong so I

cut

it

out.

 

 

II.

 

I crawled to your door

                                 but I knocked

                                                           too loudly

so I must stay

                     outside.

 

I must take off

                      my shoes

 

before I can enter,

                            I must take off

                                                       my feet,

 

I must take off my face

                                    and every other part

that offends.

 

I must

        climb into the melting pot

                                                       and wait

 

until the marrow of me

                                   dissolves

into soup,

 

              until the bones

                                       of who I was

can be discarded,

 

while the simmering stock of

                                                who I must

                                                                 become

cries out

             for salt and spice.

Valerie Valdes

Valerie Valdes’s work has been featured in Uncanny Magazine, Time Travel Short Stories, and Nightmare Magazine. Her debut novel Chilling Effect was named one of Library Journal’s best SF/fantasy novels of 2019; the sequel, Prime Deceptions, is forthcoming. Join her in opining about books, video games and parenting on Twitter @valerievaldes.

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