An angry god brought closer
to me by my mother. She named him father, dear,
clown, monster, storm, sunfish, flesh, love – love!
- from “Notes on Orange”
Jennifer Huang’s “Return Flight” is a study of how to carve one’s way through a present tense that doesn’t truly reflect the past you’ve lived. A world where you were born outside of your culture, outside of your language, outside of what your family loves. Because when you are a forced dichotomy of heritage and a new world, you have to figure out where the middle line is just to keep your footing.
It’s here we see names erased or added or forgotten depending on the generation. It’s here we see that intimacy means both violence and love and that sometimes the lines are blurred. It’s here we find that sometimes we have to close our “eyes to become a different face…so you could love me as you’ve always imagined”. It’s in these lines that we have to choose to better understand those who love us as equally flawed.
Huang prods us to take an uneasy look at love and how we name it. Do we exist within our family or simply because of our family. What do we do when we don’t always know the language to explain ourselves to our loved ones? We love our families as hard as we can. We push forward. We learn languages that don’t lead us to shame because sometimes we “live in a perpetual state of I don’t know”.
Chris Margolin (he/him), CO-EiC of The Poetry Question and Co-Host of TPQ20, bleeds semantics & poetry. With almost 20 years in education, he has seen words change lives. He began TPQ when a student asked him to prove the relevancy of poetry in modern times; his work here strives to do just that.