Letter to My Future Grandchild – Tehmina Khan

After Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Dear Grandchild,

You will not be born for many years.
But I want to tell you who you are.

You carry stories from five continents
in your blood.

You have travelled from
Afghanistan to India
India to New York
New York to Oklahoma
Oklahoma to California.

You have travelled from
the Philippines to San Francisco.

And from El Salvador to San Francisco.

You were brought
from West Africa, in shackles,
to the United States, ending up in Oklahoma.

The parts of you met here in California
where stories upon stories speak to each other

My precious grandchild,
If you are a girl
I will give you my saris
that unfold like silk rivers,
saris my grandmother folded into her suitcase
in Hyderabad
and flew to New Jersey
where she died
right before I married your grandfather in Oakland.

My beautiful grandchild,
It is 2018.
Your father is still a child
growing into a man.
He has not yet fallen in love.
Not yet had his heart broken.

I can only pray and trust
that you will someday be born.

I cannot promise you much.

It is 2018
and the town of Paradise has burned to the ground
and even in San Francisco,
we have breathed its particles.
Your dad has asthma.
He has struggled to breathe.

I wonder now where I will take you
to experience majesty and awe,

Yosemite, with its silver granite cliffs,
Will its trees burn away?
Will its winter snow become yearly rains?
Tassajara , where I go to meditate
and write poetry by the creek?
Last year, the fires came to its edges,
and smoke filled the valley.
And our own Crissy Field?
Will the tides rise and swallow it up?
Where then, will I take you to look for sand crabs?

If the snowpack runs dry
What will we drink?
Will the bees still be around to pollinate our fruit trees
and give us precious honey?

I cannot promise you much.

All I have is my voice and my poem.

I speak for the trees.
I speak for the air.

I ride a bicycle.
I can grow vegetables.

I can speak to the Divine.
She is the ultimate healer.

I speak for you.

My infinite love,

Your grandmother

Tehmina Khan
Tehmina Khan has taught science to preschoolers and citizenship to octogenarians, and she now teaches English and Poetry for the People at CCSF. Her work has been published in Forum, Written Here, OccuPoetry, and PoetsEleven. Tehmina lives with her husband and teenage son in San Francisco and keeps close to extended family around the bay.

Scanned Ink on paper
Natalia Gajos

Natalia Gajos
Natalia was born and raised in Poland. She is a Graphic Design student at CCSF. She loves to meet and learn from people from all corners of the world. Natalia is passionate about craftsmanship in design. The Drop Cap letter is a metaphor of her past and present life.

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