Cite as: Phan, H.D., 2017, “My Mother Says the Syrian Refugees Look Like Tourists”. New England Review 38(2): 36-38.
The following is an excerpt from the original text:
because she has just finished telling the story of our escapeand needs to draw a comparison, return us safely to the present,
December 2015, we're back at my sister's childproofed house,keeping warm by winter sun, central heating, and our sweatpants;
because some do: "Ghaith joyfully snapped selfies, the Aegeanglimmering in the background. He looked much like a tourist,"
suggests the reporter at large in the New Yorker article I readabout one refugee's epic escape from Syria, and think of again
when my mother can't make room in our story for more people;because my mother never quite has the right words in English,
though to be fair, she said "travelers," and seemed anxious after;because she's not callous, you must understand, just protective…
In the blue porcelain bowl on the granite top kitchen islandwhere we gather faithfully around my mother and the story,
there are three balls of white rice shaped like warm eggs,and a fourth, forming in her hands, being pressed into service
as she recounts making them before, wrapped in banana leavesand secreted inside pockets. These are for my nephew, Aidan,
who loves rice like he loves Cheerios, who will be hungryonce his toy train runs off too many tracks, and who just turned
two, around the age I was when we left, a coincidence my motherpoints to like a storybook illustration…