Exchange Student



Everyone talks too much

In the new foster home

I am assigned to.


Everyone wants to know

Every detail of your day,

Your date,

Your life

Had I know it would be this way

I would have faked a

Language barrier

Even if it meant

Sacrificing my pride.


When everyone fights,

It’s even worse;

We are encouraged to voice our feelings,



As if I could think straight

In a rage.


Everyone is all touchy-feely

As if they could cure

Two decades of my pain

With a hug

(I know it’s a start, but—)

They think I’m rude

When I cannot reciprocate

When I cannot talk when I am mad

Or return an embrace


They must learn

That I was just not built that way.

They should not judge;

I am not the only student in this house.


When their intrusive chatter

Grows too loud

I wonder if their own son,

Who lives halfway around the world

In my house,

Has discovered the eerie,

Liberating feeling

Of living without sound.


Birds, San Francisco, 2006. Photographed by Pierra C. Labrador