“My Father Lives” – Poem In Memory of Balbir Singh Sodhi (Victim of First Hate crime After 9/11)

In memorial of Balbir Singh Sodhi, murdered on September 15, 2001.
The victim of the first hate crime to result in death after the World Trade Center attacks.

Rose Kaur holds a photo of her uncle Balbir Singh Sodhi at her home in Gilbert. Sodhi was murdered at a family-owned gas station just hours after the 9/11 attacks by a man now serving a life term. Courtesy: David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic

my father lives 
in new york’s buildings
which scrape the sky

and

my father lives 
in afghanistan’s mountains 
which kiss the moon

and

my father lives 
in mesa, arizona desert plain
which swallows the first sand
storm/ bullet 

yes 

my father 
Balbir Singh Sodhi 

yes 

my father offers 
himself to strangers’ babies
he clinks/ clangs
with each coin tossed 

into every collection
plate of prayers 
to heal
a sister’s/ a brother’s/ another’s 
wounds 

and

my father wraps
his love
for every self/ every family/ every faith 
in each turban cloth pleat
laid soft onto forehead 
across nape 
set back to forehead 
with patterned care 
like a thousand rows 
of careful lined 
sugar cane field 

and

my father plants
every continent’s flag
every nation’s flag
every people’s flag 
on his accent tongue
he waves the banner 
of humanity breaking borders 
with every
stumble/ of speech
contradiction/ of grammar
hesitation/ of language

and

my father stretches/ lifts/ rises
from the fiber 
of every muscle 
of every man 
who pumps gas or drives a taxi
just so wheat and rice can melt
in his child’s stomach

and

my father lives/ my father lives/ my father lives
in new york / afghanistan/ mesa, arizona 

in 
the guilty 
innocent 
terrorist 
civilian 

in 
the leader 
follower 
persecutor 
persecuted 

in 
the thunder 
lightning 
war
peace 

and 

in my heartbeat
your heartbeat
our heartbeat 

and 

my father lives
in my love
your love
our love 

yes
my father 
Balbir Singh Sodhi

yes
my father
lives

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