Five compatriots

in a panel on identity:  one talks-story about being born 
in the '40s to parents who had to skip to a different 
state to get married. Fair enough, she could pass 
for white; but also got told how lucky she was to get 
lead roles in school plays and musicals (when it was 
West Side Story or Pocahontas). Another shares 
that he's just gone through divorce (so American!) 
which doesn't sit well with the older generation 
of church-going immigrants—the same ones 
who tried to keep their children from learning 
their native tongue so they could become more 
American. (And let's have a conversation about 
something besides noodles and egg rolls.) 
The one in the middle chooses her words carefully, 
says it's taken her all this time (decades!) to arrive 
at an understanding: she has to seek out those 
like her—queer; or they don't tick the boxes, not 
even "other"— who refuse to be seen by their own. 
The fourth tells of the long, circuitous route to get 
away from stethoscope or scalpel, and instead 
to brushes and color swatches. Everyone in this town 
seems to have a maritime connection, a giant 
wooden spoon and fork, a saint in velvet and gold 
filigree taking up space on the walls. The youngest 
of them wants to write stories and poems about 
the in-between, where the light can glance off 
surfaces in so many ways and in so many beautiful 
directions, none of them merely resembling 
brown, none of them merely falling like leaves 
to be raked over, season after season. 

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