"work"

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she was thirteen years old
with two jobs and four brothers
and two parents who could barely
keep a roof over their heads

and when her parents decided it was time
to take her out of school -
she left
quietly and politely
only opening her mouth to say
"goodbye"
because that was all one year of school in vietnam
was willing to teach a girl
when there were so many boys to educate
and so very little time

and so when she got the chance to leave
she left with visions in her head
of raising a happy family
not knowing that minimum wage
was all she would have in the end
while she tried her hardest
to raise her only grandchild

and that's where i come in
writing checks since i was ten
for a grandmother who cannot write nor speak
in the language of her late husband
and his one true love america

but despite being raised here
and never leaving the land i've lived on
america is not the only home i know

because i know of my grandmother's home
and i know how it scares her to see me
work one job while i consider a second
just in the hopes of being
the first woman in our family
to go to college

and i know i am more than just a number
more than a sob story and the tissue
that gets passed around to all the teary eyes

because i have fought hard to be who i am
and i have fought hard to escape the limits
that surround me all because of a generation gap 
and an age gap
and a you-are-completely-missing-the-point gap
that i have been well aware of
since i was old enough to be aware
of the elephant in the room

and society teaches me
that it's better to ignore the elephants
and to welcome the wolves who do not hesitate
to slaughter the sheep beneath them
and to think that i have been told
all these ideals and constructs
and to think that i can not bring myself
to agree to a single one - 

i look back at the life my grandmother has had
and yet i still struggle to see
the life that she hopes i will have and love
and it takes everything i have
to tell her not to worry
and yet i am the one who is filled to the brim
with a countless number of fears
with the biggest one of them all
letting down the one person
who has spent her whole life
trying to keep me up

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