Content Warning: racism xenophobia

The hits just keep coming.

That’s what I said to my white husband

when he asked me if I was okay,

me wiping tears away as I headed

to the shower. Getting ready to attend

a benefit for Planned Parenthood,

still wondering if I should head

to the airport instead, join the protests

at O’Hare for those who had gotten

on a plane with legal rights,

and had those rights, that safe status,

stripped away in transit. I had

been holding it together all day,

ignoring the house and my family,

compulsively reading the news,

posting and reposting information

in the hope that it might help.

I was doing okay, teary but

okay, until a conservative friend

said the wrong thing — she wanted

to be helpful, but it was unintentionally

cruel. That turned out to be the straw

that broke me, the unexpected punch

in the gut from an ally — I’d been braced

for the declared enemies. I almost

stayed home, curled up in bed with covers

pulled over my head and my children

tucked around me, insulation against

a breaking heart. Crying in the shower

helped, though, and I pulled myself

together, dressed in bright colors instead

of mourning black, went to the benefit

and drank wine and shared fellowship

with a hundred neighbors who had

given their time and their money and

their love to support the marginalized,

the ones in danger. Eight days into

this presidency; I spent most of the day

feeling like an animal trapped, my back

against a wall. But last night reminded me

— we can have each others’ backs.

Circle up, people. They will come at us

and at us, from every angle. Link arms

and hold fast. They will not break us

if we have each others’ backs.

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Mary Anne is a Sri Lankan born Asian American writer, academic, teacher and activist. Mary Anne writes in multiple genres: mainstream fiction, nonfiction, SF/F, and erotica. Her most recent book of fiction is The Stars Change, a novella composed of linked stories, telling the story of a university planet where war has just broken out. She also founded the Speculative Literature Foundation and DesiLit (an organization promoting South Asian and diaspora fiction).

You can find more of her work at maryannemohanraj.com.