United States

she/her. 16, i write poetry
if poems disappear they have been submitted to a mag/contest, wish me luck!
est. sometime in 2017
currently waiting for wtw's 3rd golden age

Message to Readers

I decided to change the ending of this piece, since the last version felt a little too open-ended for my liking. Feedback is greatly appreciated!


July 7, 2019


A blue and white checkered backpack
the lunch bell rings and I
race towards it
drawing out a metal tin

A coarse flour sack
Nǎinai, grandmother
sticks her hand inside
feeling, hoping for something to eat
she takes out the last handful of rice
shoves it in her mouth to chew
for a moment she remembers what
it feels like to be full

I open up the metal box and
a grin lights up my face
a Zongzi! sticky rice, wrapped in
bamboo leaves
sausage, pork, shrimp, salted duck egg, chestnuts and peanuts
my favorite
I unwrap it, getting ready to take a big bite
“Eww! What is that thing, dog meat?”

Rice grains cling to Nǎinai’s lips
she hunts in the bag for more
nothing's there
she knows, with
the Chinese Civil War billowing on the horizon
the bag won't be filled anytime soon

The joy is gone and
so is my appetite
the Zongzi is a dead weight in my hand
and so I
let it drop, drop
into the grey garbage can
I stare at it
nestled among
peanut butter and jelly sandwich crusts
banana peels as
I try to shake off the guilt

People ask me if I am Chinese
no, I say, I was born in America
I speak the language fluently and
my chopsticks can pick up
peas just as well as
my mother's and grandmother's do
and I
can read and write Mandarin
but no.

I am not accepted there with
too-dark skin and too-big eyes
and hair that refuses
to straighten
but they make up their minds anyway, flashing
polite smiles as they tick the "asian"
boxes on state tests

Who am I kidding? I'm Chinese.
Just not Chinese enough.


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1 Comment
  • loveletterstosappho

    honestly reading this almost made me cry i'm still working on juggling chinese vs american and this was filled with so much authenticity and honesty and it hit really really hard and i love the way you use pinyin
    also i ate zongzi today!! it was very very good

    over 1 year ago