Our forgetting is also
our home, and why
we never left the old country.
— Gabeba Baderoon, “Promised Land”
AN OLD BLACK-AND-WHITE PORTRAIT OF HIM hung in our living room. His slanted signature marked the books on our shelves. And once a month, cousin T. and I walked my grandmother, Agnes, to the post office to collect his pension. Until the checks stopped coming in the late nineties—by then, all the money had been stolen by officials—she’d also get a monthly sum from the War Victims Compensation Fund. Like her husband, who she never mentioned, Agnes had been a schoolteacher. She’d take us to the library on our way home from the post office. The books we read depicted suburban, white childhoods, full of ease.