Before illegal

Before becoming the influx, the scar, the stain

Before finding my new name in a scuffed English novel

Before Jane

Before mastering the sturdy handshake

Before never using it

Before swallowing the lilts of my own tongue

Before forcing my mouth to e-nun-ci-ate                            

Before being misunderstood

Before dreaming of my mother’s songs

Before learning the spirals of British decorum

Before cup of tea, anyone?

Before yearning for a belonging I could name

Before the sound of my laugh began to decay

Before the grope of polyester

Before my prayers mocked me

Before Go Home ricocheted from mouths to vans

Before dreaming of going home

Before each footstep became an apology

Before how destitute exactly?

Before not destitute enough

Before application refused

Before temporary

Before knowing

Before the stain, the scar, the influx

Before illegal