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Talking Story 
by Polo

From The Asian Reporter, V27, #2 (January 16, 2017), page 7.

Fire Rooster Year 4715

How weíre going to do it

Election year 2016 is over. Now, new national and state and local governments are settling into place. Put another way: Monkey Year 4714 is finished and Rooster Year 4715 is here ó a Fire Rooster Year, to be clear. One bound to be hot, tempestuous, spectacular.

I paused a long moment when I left the house today. Change was in our stilled and chilled morning air. But a moment or two later, our blessed sun rose, and along with her rose every urban and barnyard rooster on our grand continentís western edge. Each of them doing what roosters have always done. 2016 or 2017, 4714 or 4715, Monkey Year or Rooster Year, itís all the same to them.

These guys have gotten humans out of bed, gotten us brushed and dressed and breakfasted across time zones of every era, across zip codes of all geographies, no matter the day or the season. Roosters donít care whether itís an election year or not. They crow no matter whoís in office. Or not.

Indeed, it doesnít matter so much whether your barnyard friends or your cozy household follows the Greek or Chinese calendar, the Egyptian or Mayan one, the Persian or Hindu systems of clocking our precious sunís progress. It matters more to note how much so many of us, across our achy earthís well-worn face, want nothing more than to rise real early, to make a lot of money, and to return at workdayís end to the people we love. To the people who love us.

2016ís awfulness

Iím not saying that these times donít matter. No one would say that we havenít just endured the most exhausting Monkey Year in any grand auntieís memory. A long-long time. Because we did. We weathered 12 full months of the ugliest political theater. In daily bad acts. And because what happens here, in our immigrant nation, is inextricably linked to whatís happening back home, our families have faced constant turmoil no matter which way we look.

Everywhere, 2016 was a year of sorrow and humiliation. The worst. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, 65.3 million children, parents, and elders no longer have a home to rise early in, to work hard for, to return to. In morning papers and online, on evening news and Facebook, Portlandís Asian and islander, African and Arab, Mexican, Latin American, and Russian-speaking households saw streams of people, their people, trudging away from awfulness. We saw Syrian baby boy Aylan Kurdi, our baby boy, washed up on shore. So alone.

We know 2016 has been turmoil unprecedented, both in raw scale of desperation, and for the enormity of wealth in the world watching these families suffer so.

Anxiety fills our River City homes. Fear is through the roof. As we approach Rooster Year 2017, many if not most of our newcomer and minority communities worry late into the night about what U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump will do to them. To us. To a world of hurt no longer segregated by wide oceans. Our world.

Sometimes, often times, it seems no one knows where all this is going.

But you know, we do. We really do know where weíre going. We know our families have been through exhausted days and awful nights before. Many times before. Many places before. Weíve simply risen every morning a moment after those reliable roosters, who rose a moment after our golden surija sun rose. We greet each other warmly. We wash our faces. We brush our teeth and hair. We went to work, and we did well through years much nastier than 2016 was, and even uglier than 2017 can be.

2017ís goodness

The truth is, settled and new Americans are tough and tender. Our ancestors and elders, or you and me, had our hearts badly broken by leaving our familias, by leaving our beloved homelandís soil and scents and whispering trees. Then our bones got broken by America ó by the grim places we worked in her unkind economy, and by the daily battering of a mass culture so contrary to who and how we are. Still, in truth, we made it. We cried and laughed together, then we cried and laughed some more. We prayed a lot. Every day we did all that, reliable as roosters. We did good. We are good.

The operant word in and out of all that earlier awfulness, is we. We sorrow. We persist. We celebrate us. Surely, this is exactly how and why Rooster Year 4715 cannot do us any new harm.

We are a nation of stubborn immigrants. Ridiculously optimistic. Creative and kind. We know that if weíre going to stay this way ó no matter what kind of year weíve just wrapped up and no matter what kind of new year is rolling in ó we must stay true to us. True to how we are around our kitchen table; at this Friday mosque, this Saturday or Sunday temple or church; all over any crazy Costco, IKEA, or factory outlet mall.

More than whoís in political office, we have always minded more who we rise so early with, who we work so hard for, who we come home to at the end of another exhausted workday, workweek, calendar year. We nurture us.

That is how we are. And we are good.

Opinions expressed in this newspaper are those of the
authors and not necessarily those of this publication.

Read The Asian Reporterís Lunar New Year special edition
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