Shirley Geok-lin Lim was born in 1944 in Malacca, Malaysia, a small town on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. Her first poem was written and then published when she was ten. When her first book of poetry, CROSSING THE PENINSULA AND OTHER POEMS, won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1980, she became the first woman and the first Asian to receive the award. Her novel JOSS AND GOLD was published in September a few days before 9/11.
Shirley Geok-lin Lim Learning to love America
You can read more of her work on the companion web site to FOOLING WITH WORDS, a Bill Moyers PBS special.
because it has no pure products
because the Pacific Ocean sweeps along the coastline
because the water of the ocean is cold
and because land is better than ocean
because I say we rather than they
because I live in California
I have eaten fresh artichokes
and jacarandas bloom in April and May
because my senses have caught up with my body
my breath with the air it swallows
my hunger with my mouth
because I walk barefoot in my house
because I have nursed my son at my breast
because he is a strong American boy
because I have seen his eyes redden when he is asked who he is
because he answers I don't know
because to have a son is to have a country
because my son will bury me here
because countries are in our blood and we bleed them
because it is late and too late to change my mind
because it is time.
reprinted with permission of West End Press.Productions.