WELCOME DEPARTURE

Traditions work like migrations – each pattern weaves a comfort

I know the days of the year. I know the roots of the color red and all it endeavors.

Living things require structures to grow, to reach platitudes

I collect raindrops every January. Another twelve moons passing.

To know of beginnings, to hope, to construct time

In a building made of stairs, thoughts converge as feet anticipate the bare concrete.

To settle, to nest, to move as a collective, to thread

I sit on the black leather couch tattooed with rips

The air stale with solitude. The streets meet the souls returning.

The television rings a tedious jingle. Fathers don’t belong in the kitchen

Memories overcast space like confetti, each fragment adorned with emotions

Bodies gather at a round table of home cooked meals. Hot pot in the center

On repeat, memories piled into dust, clinging to every corner.

Sautéed fish abides fortunes. I scoop white steamed rice into porcelain bowls.

An old house smells of rituals. The sky maps the way home.

Wài gong says a prayer. In a family of minimal faith, I clasp my palms for good manners.

Locality only matters if all components keep their names.

Chopsticks slit the conversations into banters. Or sometimes, cross fire.

Otherwise a charred remembrance, a thing in the past.

Regardless, the night concludes with prospects and poker games

What is a skeleton without its ghost? an offering.

I count the lucky money in my pocket, forgetting what time it is.

The mind assembles stories to be folded into skin.

My father lifts me up, carries me on his shoulder.

A scent triggers a cry. A taste tallies a balance.

In my sleep, I become the walk home.

Draw a fault line between each sense. Welcome departure.


Kaya Arnoux is a poet, visual arts teacher, and language educator born & raised in Taiwan. After making peace with her identity as an immigrant, she began to focus her writing on the inquiry of language as a colonizing medium and how reclaiming the English language as her own gives affirmation to her existence as a migrant. Her poetry investigates the meaning of tradition, family, identity, and what it means to be Asian in a racialized country. Her poetry has been published in The Rumpus, The Seventh Wave, and others. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and their biracial daughter. You may follow her on twitter @ArnouxKaya and instagram @kayatalkingsense