Treehouse-dwellers

We are foreigners.


We live in these houses, 
yet have no home.
In the same neighbourhood, 
with little expectation of neighbourliness.
In this diverse city,
yet not connected by diversity.

We are unique
neither Here nor There
our countries, roots and branches in our identity
yet, our countries do not consider us citizens,
claiming our identities invalidate us

Truthfully, our identities are
confused?
Our home is here,
A treehouse made of the bark of woods we have lived in.
Our roots are elsewhere,
An immovable forest whose bark we have taken to build our treehouse.
And neither bark nor root recognize us as theirs
because there is too much of us that isn’t theirs.

too much ‘Western’ to be traditional
too much ‘traditional’ to be Western
neither Here nor There,
existing in Nowhere and Everywhere at once
in our claustrophobic treehouse.

Yet, it is between Nowhere and Everywhere
that we find treehouses like ours,
hewn together from the fine barks of their countries
international citizens with identities that are just as confused?
living in treehouses unrecognized by neither bark nor root

and, as demoralizing as it may seem,
we, the treehouse-dwellers, find hope
in the place between Nowhere and Everywhere

for there, living in those claustrophobic treehouses,
live foreigners like us
who recognize us
as one of their own

those who know the new subtlety of racist nuances
who shred the blankets of stereotypes placed upon them
by their own countries
who stand firm when their identities are brought into question

who recognize us
because we are one of their own:
foreigners.

We are them.
They are us.
And we, the treehouse-dwellers, find hope
because,
even if our treehouses share no common bark,
they were built the same way

By foreigners
who nicked their hands as they tore away each strip of bark
from their country’s forest,
caught themselves in the sticky strings of love they used as glue
to hold their treehouse together,
who housed hope when their treehouse seemed out of place,
who opened their arms to other treehouse-dwellers,
who stand united with other treehouse-dwellers

And we stand united with other treehouse-dwellers
because they are us
and we are them. 

Ariana Nazem
She/Her, University of Calgary Student
Instagram @ariana.nazem

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