by Samantha Sasenarine, 2019

How American do I feel
When they dance with their hands first
before they dance on their two feet
Dressed like a green serpent—
chanting around a blazing fire
Religion and dance become inseparable.

In the morning,
Light rain patters against thatched roofs
As the small Balinese girl sleeps silently
In a hammock, swaying
An elderly man, sits with a long wooden cane
gripped between his brown fingers
Eyeing me stoically
'A warrior' I thought

In the distance, women hike up sacred mountains
For cold water from tiny streams
They clean their faces and wash their clothes
And return home
With large buckets of fresh water
Men with straw hats bend barefoot
In green rice fields
Muddy hands and rolled up pants
Picking grains and singing a tune
Asalkan tuan, Asalkan tuan!
They stare at me too
and laugh mockingly as they sing
Asalkan tuan, Asalkan tuan!

How American do I feel
Privileged by their presence.