archaeology

I get asked about my skin


First grade

Moving in

Deep breathes

Tai sao

Minh ở đây?

Oh okay how about we try kindie?

But in kindie

I'm the

Biggest one

Getting smallest done

Glances

Whys

Apologize

Just smile

So they don't think you're dumb

And soon you can go home


But home, is four hours away

And as I stay under the only roof I find familiar

Mum

I can't remember

Mum

These textbook walls

Hang two languages I barely know

Mum when can we go

I'm scared

Help me mum

Help con cái này

I don't understand cái này

Tại sao con phair học cái này


Mum

Mum, we're going home

I'm nine now and we're going home

But why does home feel like eyes that look like mine but don't recognize me

As I backtrack

Collecting words like artifacts

I am laughed at because I can't spell

Because I can't read the same or think the same

I bear a name

Of a girl who doesn't even exist


And I'm here now, and we do think the same

Yet I'm still asked about my skin

Laminated cardboard flesh thick paper thin

Skin to which I am no less a tourist

They say, that I'm born in the States

But I'm not mixed race

Yet it isn't offensive

When you ask about the absence of my accent

Or my eyes

These whys I don't mind explaining

It just gets confusing sometimes

When my cheeks flush changing languages mid-way

And there are days when I just don't know

Whether it is wrong for me to feel so alien yet call this nationality mine

I am, fine

But home

I've just never been able to allow myself to feel fully comfortable around you

Home, I know I'll be leaving again

Home, I don't know what to make of you

Or what I am able to make of you, and whether it's enough


I'm this Asian batter

White, cookie cutter

White, too white

To understand

To yellow to comprehend

Yellow

Too yellow

Read

All the manuals

But my fingers still get sliced on the corners of how

Could I let my roots be misplaced?

Gone to waste

Cut off

And regrown

Roots, never known

For you to grow where you were planted

Well I moved


And I'll still be moving

Tattooing each new grin

Skin I am neither, yet I am all

I am, so many things

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© 2018 by Millie Le