A Poem In Three Parts, Part 1: A Story of Now

The Othering & Belonging Institute commissioned poet Michelle Lee aka "Mush" to write and perform a poem in three parts on bridging and belonging for the 2021 Othering & Belonging Conference. We will be premiering this poem and accompanying visuals—featuring an array of dancers, aerialists, and performers of all kinds—in three digital shorts directed by filmmaker Yoram Savion, with creative direction from conference emcee Sarah Crowell. 

I: A Story of Now


we are in a monumental moment

a portal to change as Arundhati Roy calls it

a gateway between

one world and the next


if marked on a map of the human spirit

we are the space between

what is glorious and what is tragic

what is light and what is difficult

what is left and what is right


expanding our imaginations is what is required


when Grace Lee Boggs spoke these words

she empowered countless people around the world

to find the strength within, and together

to defy hate and to seek out love

             love in the presence of our enemies

             love in places we were made to believe

             nothing good could grow


who will be a neighbor to the one who is hurt and wounded?


in a year of racial reckoning,

a global pandemic, escalating climate crisis

and a crack in the old structures of power

what would it look like to forgive?


to bridge


to a new world where our ancestors

remind us that our grief unleashed,

unbound, can move mountains

where love is a neighbor

who might pray to different gods

but is a friend to anyone


I mean, after all

are we not all artists of creative survival?


aren’t we all children of

travelers and seekers

island and mainland

New World and Old Country

--all trapped between the Hyphen that says

   we are culturally, here and not


we are Asian women

we are born loud

we are Black Future and Power

we are fist and flower

we are summaries of nightmares

rewriting scarcity myths

we are redeeming mercy

for every Love we’ve killed

without even knowing it

we are freedom fighters

we were sent from the past

my story be a soundtrack

to the best cooked meal you’ve ever had


we are more

than the stories written

of us without us


in the world we are becoming

(the one we’re making today)

we get to be soft and silent

by choice


in the world we are becoming

the one we are both breaking and remaking

we lay down our guns and for once,

we feast first;

while the rice is still hot

and army stew still rich in meat

when the moonshine is cold

and the clay pot steams


let us speak something sweet

into the ear of great grief

let us speak ourselves into a good story


let us break the injustice of our forebearers

without forgetting the rage that kept us alive

let us break from the rules made to divide

let us meet this monumental moment

with a story of who we be

as people

when we dare to belong

when we risk believing

in a world where everything made broken

can be made whole


Monday, October 18, 2021