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“Bathing in India,” by Jemma Jacks

Bathing in India

Before I was a citizen of this country,
I was a citizen of the bucket.
Staring at the water right under my
nose. I don’t believe I can fit.
Lifting me up, my mom tells me
it is the only way,
my feet dangling centimeters
above the bubbly water.

An orange bucket holding in the water.
It seems to want to tell me
to get in. It seems to say, “Let me go!
I don’t want to be contained.”
My mom puts me in the bucket.
What she calls the bath, bathing
in India is not like at home.
Warmth grasps me and I know
I love the water.

Jemma Jacks wrote this poem while a student at Leschi Elementary School, with WITS Writer-in-Residence Jeanine Walker. “Bathing in India” won SAL’s 2016 Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest. The theme for this contest was “citizenship,” inspired by Claudia Rankine’s book, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014). Jemma opened for a sold-out SAL Literary Arts event with Teju Cole at Town Hall Seattle on April 21st, 2016.

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