The Voice Issue 32: October 2017 - Page 31


I frame my Chinese as an insult

because people asked me how I can see,

because people think my employers are my parents,

because people think I'm "too aggressive",

because people think I'm "too white".

I frame my Chinese as an insult

because saying "Hello" in Mandarin

feels like trying to say "mirror" in the fourth grade

while people coaxed my mouth to form a proper r all over again,

because saying "How are you?" in Mandarin

feels like evenings before dinner working on saying my r's and crying,

because saying "You're welcome" in Mandarin

feels like crying in front of my seventh-grade teachers

over my vandalized homework and binder.

I was there when you boiled my culture down

to a combination dinner of General Tso's chicken,

pork fried rice,

and an egg roll,

with a side of "broken" English

and extra fortune cookies.

I was there when you dealt one of many blows

with a dull ax

to my long forgotten family tree.

I felt every thwack

starting at my bruised hip bones

and reverberating to my palpitating heart.

- Drift, St. Albans, VT

Lia Chien, Jericho, VT