ASIAN

I never understood what it was to be ASIAN
I never understood why I had to be called ASIAN

Or told that I was ASIAN.

I thought I was like everyone else,
I have two eyes, two arms and two legs
I have a brain – I have a heart

And yet

I am always told I am ASIAN.

I remember middle school,
I remember CHINK.

I remember being asked if I ate dog.
I remember everyone laughed.
I remember the teachers heard
and only once did a substitute stop it.

I forgot his name, I wish I knew who he was because
I will always remember him saying

“That’s not OK.”

I thought I was like everyone else,
human – female – Canadian

I remember feeling ugly because he wasn’t into ASIANS
I remember feeling pretty because

I was pretty FOR an ASIAN.

I thought I belonged because I was born here,
I thought I was Canadian.

I thought I was ME.

What is ASIAN?

bà ngoại

The dollop of oil sits, a steaming surface
flakes of gold chili suspended in a blend of fire red
the burn awaiting your tongue.

Like a song from my childhood:
a familiar click of chopstick against chopstick, hot
tea pouring, a porcelain cup, and
the curve of a white, scooping spoon, ladling soup
and sauce.

Scents rise-
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ginger,
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀soy,
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀vinegar,
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀sprouts,
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀cilantro,
jalapeno,

a chime rings,
cold Canadian wind winds its way
through the gap
of door,

My belly wrapped
a familiar fullness,
my mouth burning fire

flavours that cannot be replicated
unless in a sparse kitchen,
the speech lilting in different songs from
nations that must be crossed by sea or plane.

The flavours embrace me
I feel weathered hands making this meal.

bà ngoại