Wednesday, April 20, 2011


A plant without its roots is a dead plant.

"Language is the soul of a nation."

A girl who cannot speak the language of her roots is soulless and dead.

Heritage matters.

It’s an old shame.

Smiling as the bubbles of the mother tongue
Burst over my head, understanding
Out of five parts, three
Mute as the pearls waiting on my tongue
Melt into clean iron lines.

“You look like your mother.”
“You have your father’s hands.”

Resembling millions of other girls
Walking the streets of Shandong, of Anhui,
But how many of them, I wonder,
Are second daughters,
Breathing in numbers
Breathing out silence.

Fond of study like my mother.
Fond of noodles like my father.

What of the more exotic fare
Pushed away with thin-lipped refusal?
Questions and words float through the dust
Like plastic marbles stamped with the words:

“Made in China.”

I shrink under the old eyes passed down for centuries,
Reach out to 4,000 years of history
Folded up into a red paper flower that
Will unfurl with a word that
I, with my leaden Western tongue,
Cannot speak.

Yes, it is an old shame.


Poem written for English class in autumn 2010.

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