The Waters Crossed

Diana Writes
May 10, 2021
Henri MatisseThe Swimming Pool, Maquette for ceramic (realized 1999 and 2005)Nice-Cimiez, Hôtel Régina, late summer 1952

In lê thị diễm thúy’s, sans papiers, she responds to Henri Matisse’s The Swimming Pool. She closes her poem with, “weigh the seas you swallowed to swim here.” (lines 14–15). These lasting words hold a deep meaning that corresponds with Matisse’s artwork.

I believe that ê thị diễm thúy refers to immigrants in these lines and their journey across seas. She insists that immigrants consider the vast waters and the path they had to undergo in order to “swim” in the United States. Her use of swim indicates that immigrants feel that they are floating since they were born across seas.

ê thị diễm thúy titles her poem sans papiers as it correlates with Matisses’s paper cut out art piece. This meaningful title also resonates with immigrants and their lack of papers and what it means to be without papers in the United States.