I come from privilege,
from a people who could read signboards
in languages that did not pronounce home in a way that felt welcoming,
languages that started from the wrong side of things,
as if to only build up halfway,
creating a divide no bridge could ever bring together.
My father was the first teacher this town ever saw,
his words more powerful than battle cries,
his soldiers listening with hungry eyes set at a victory
that lied masked in perfecting chalkboard lettering.
In fourteen years, he taught them all he knew,
taught them how to write their own name,
gifting them an identity at the cost of time spent drinking tea in the morning.
When he died, the engraver did not ask me to spell his name,
he knew exactly how to carve alphabets to weave his eulogy,
as if to finally put all his learning to good use.
I am a second generation teacher,
which is another way of saying my work is easy,
I carry forward the same legacy these children do,
feeding a desire ironically no words can describe.
Once, I asked them why they return each morning,
and they told me,
“We come from privilege,
because we do not have to spend years in oblivion
before we learn to name ourselves,
which is why,
every moment we spend resurrecting what learning sounds like,
we prolong the silence of the generations to come.”