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the chang tastes just like the one
your grandma makes every winter before she leaves
for dorje-den and varanasi,
fermented over another new season of your series of lonely cold nights.
when she opens it around losar,
the house always stinks
with not just the pungency of yeast sourced from china-town in new york
and rice bought on the family ration card,
but also with
tears the men of your family swallowed
only as far as their throat.
it fizzes on your tongue with the rage
of the women’s ‘resilience’
and the men’s arrogant insecurity
and you want to spit it out and tell them you
don’t even like chang
but find,
in that 10-nanosecond fizzle,
you do.
the spice burning your belly
is familiarity acquired
from ancestors whose roots
you thought were firmly in the memories of 
a river running along
a little village at the bottom of
a mountain and disappearing into 
a neighboring village.
but this strange land holds
fragrances of
breakfast quirks from your home
on that new mountain,
and sounds from that old mountain
you are just learning to call your own.
it was here
you knew a different land
before your exile,
prayed for a daughter to lend your heart
strength when your hands would begin
slow-crumpling.
probably, our mothers past never imagined
giving birth to fire
— or maybe theirs is this fire that gets stronger
with every wild-haired,
loud-mouthed, heart-strong daughter.

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