United States

Chemistry, First Grade

April 19, 2020

because I am a vial of liquid sulfur in their eyes
And when I walk past them they crumble away as if I could spill on them in any moment,

marking them with my yellow stink. 
(yellow was my favorite color for years, until I changed)

I: was changed
They: changed me

(the law of conservation of energy says i cannot be created 
or destroyed, but i can be transformed.)

I tell myself that this disease, not the disease in the news but this 
disease, it has existed for a long time. when you only have 

Ten fingers and ten toes
it is difficult to count for any longer. 

This disease, it can go both ways
Like yellow can be ochre and neon at the same time, like I can 
be wanted and gross at the same time, like yellow is
a disease that no one wants like
how yellow fever isn’t transferred through mosquitoes
How it is transferred through their whispers like we are all exotic, even though

I was born in California.

because I was born in California. 

because it all does not make sense, because they are senseless of all but their sight. 

My skin, yellow
My eyes, small 
My nose, flat

I’ve been told by others of my kind
(my kind. i have to say that as if we don’t belong to the general public.)
that i’m lucky because my eyes are big (for someone of our kind)
that i’m lucky because there are two folds and I think

we are all unlucky because we have been folded into origami cranes too many times
all unlucky because we try to fold them and they do not fold the way we do
all too easily.

I look at my arms and compare
them to theirs  
and I ask,

How are we different?

How are we the same? 
they respond

It is one of those questions where you have to explain both sides.

It is one of those Venn diagram worksheets that we did as first graders.

(when my handwriting was just as messy as yours, when I didn’t know nationality was
different from ethnicity)

There was a lot to put in each circle. A lot
to put in the space where we overlap, too. I remind them of
that and they say I remind them of 

Sulfur. My underlying tones of turmeric and thyme,
their overlying tones of silk and diamond.


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  • April 19, 2020 - 12:40pm (Now Viewing)

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