Green Card

A. Shaikh

Inside the animal of my grief, a timeline. Today is year thirteen and I am trying to push into forever. A territory where I no longer count the days of my alienhood. Imagine love when the state recognizes your devotion as nothing. I am my expiration date, the foreboding hour when I am no longer
useful as my visa needs me to be. I am always the question of marriage, in the abstract, shivering in shame – anticipating the interview where I am asked to sketch out the wedding financials and the tragedy of what I told my father. I know my new country wants the green story, easy to sell, breezy and beautiful. But I am not American, I am ineligible for entry into my partner’s privilege. Their citizenship cuts at my teeth. A reminder: You can live in a country and not live. What I wish would be enough: adding peanut butter to the grocery lists of my own volition, surviving the erasure of my mother tongue, crossing the ocean each time my lover touches me like a prayer. In my dreams, I call this place home.

A. Shaikh is a queer immigrant poet raised in the tangerine summers of Texas. They are the 2021 winner of The Boiler Prize and Mayday Poetry Prize, an inaugural fellow of the Strange Tools Writer’s Workshop. You can find their poems in Underblong,, and elsewhere. This fall they will continue writing as an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program.