Raised by Refugees

Last time I thought about loving you
Was the first time I cried about you not loving me
My tears were not made for you
Not made for dropping at love’s feet or healing hurt feelings
Not made for showcasing broken down capabilities
My tears are made by
my mom who was choked by her beer-soaked boyfriend
all-throughout
she was calm
and her mom who lost a lover to the bombs in Vietnam
and her mom’s mom who aged into forgetting where she was from
My sister learned early about the purpose of our tears
I didn’t see watery eyes even though she was in a hospital bed for attempting suicide
My tears are for speaking in simple terms
When my tongue is weak
When my fingers can’t feel
For my mom crying after working from 7 at night to 7 in the morning
While screaming in her native tongue “Ma Xin Loi Oi”
Which translate to “your mom is so sorry”
Xin Loi for having her daughters grow up too early
Xin Loi for having to submit to survive
To submit to the government
Welfare, humiliation
To submit to abuse
Restraining order, white nation
From a man who now has a mail-ordered bride from Thailand
The Best of the Asian Woman Brand
A Woman to Submit to the Command of every White Nation Demand
Submission as White Nation Decorations
Paintings of myself holding up peace signs with my chinky eyes
Are you afraid of looking me in the eyes?
To admit my culture is your fetish, your kimono-style blouse, your weekly anime club
Are you afraid of looking me in the eyes?
To discover that I was not made for submission
My eyes are the way to change your asian woman definitions
And destroy this white institution
So, look me in the eyes

 
 
Sculpture by Lillyanne Pham     Dedicated to my mother Hong, which in Vietnamese, means “rose,” and my sister Daisy — your little sister is sorry.

Sculpture by Lillyanne Pham

Dedicated to my mother Hong, which in Vietnamese, means “rose,” and my sister Daisy — your little sister is sorry.


About Lillyanne Pham

Lillyanne Pham is a 21-year-old grassroots woman from Indiana. She attends Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and is becoming lost in an all white sociology department. Her creative energy has been dedicated to Receipts, a journal for and by people of color.

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