Esther Lin

Before I grasped that the undocumented

do not travel (for reentry is not allowed)

my professor lit the lecture hall with

images of Sainte-Chapelle. “The hand-

writing of the past,” she said, and now

that I am here, how I would like to hate

these gaudy signs of empire, excess

of gold, the stained-glass hieroglyphs,

no place for the eye to rest. Hate, for joy

of saying, these twenty years moored within

were not lost. But if stone and egg yolk, bonded

to blue pigment, can sell a star-filled sky,

then I too may be tempted to relish in

the might of a painted Lord.

Esther Lin was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant for twenty-one years. Her forthcoming book, Cold Thief Place, won the 2023 Alice James Award.
Originally published:
June 10, 2024


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