86

I spent a lot of time trying
to fit into another skin tone –
dyeing my hair lighter
wearing muted clothing
pretending to dread the lunches my mother packed
that my friends always made fun of

Today, my jet-black hair requires no comb
I pack delicate, complex meals
speak three languages and
languish, knowing
what an honour it is
to just be asian.

Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! I’m dedicating a few poems to my family this May. Please feel free to share your stories in the comments below.

Love,
ELLE

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79

of the love and lack thereof
I’ve cried over and ached upon
I can’t seem to will myself
to go back and wipe up those tears
erase those scars-in-the-making;
because everyday since,
poetry has melted off my skin
and onto pages and pages and pages.

 

 

A year and half since my launch on October 1, 2017, I hope you enjoy this refreshed look to the blog. I started this blog with no intention of where it is today–and I’m taking this 18-month mark to declare that it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Thank you for your support on this whirlwind.

Love,
ELLE

67

Find discomfort in the hem
of your occasion dress
zips on the side–
boys left behind
gawking at the sheer sight
of your lacy best.

Have you ever entered
a room filled,
familiar-faced
but not acquainted enough to
strike the ice?

All dressed up, nowhere to go
you arrive and yet
feel uninvited before
opening your lipstick mouth.

Surface-level small-talk: to
ask questions of others, to
keep conversation alive
I wonder if they sense my
mild polite engagement
as attention nonetheless.

My discomposure
a child nagging at my leg
pulling the sewn thread
and unravelling until I look
as naked as I feel.

60

I once had this beautiful silk dress
dotted with oil stains
I couldn’t get out.
I’d wring my knuckles raw
trying to scrape this pattern
from a spot only I could see.

I would question everyone:
“Do you see a difference?”
“Can you tell?”
I could feel it on me
like bullet holes in my shoulder blade
lodged into my skin
and yet I only quantified myself
if someone else noticed, too.

an impurity
a part of me
that ached from the inside
at a time I used to count calories
and revel in my whittling
8, 6, 4, 2, 0
I embarked to be even more invisible than
those defects I desperately wanted someone
to notice

I wonder if that girl with the silk dress
understands why I gave it up
and why it was that
she so desperately tried to
erase an imperfection that wasn’t really there.
I certainly don’t fit in those
clothes of a time long past
and I may never get to 0 again
but at least
my knuckles are soft again.

41

Everything I am
and everything I will become
is already within me.
All the tools I’ll need to cultivate internal growth
are hip-holstered, at my disposal.

I find comfort in that
there is nothing new that will become of me
but the fate that was decided
the day I was born.

Like an abandoned backyard set,
I thanked everyone who entered my life
for all they taught me
as I looked at that empty swing
nostalgic and grateful
for the way they’d leave.

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell you,”
forces us to take those coming and going
as gifts
of shaping us;
that they can’t resist leaving because
that’s what they were meant to do.

The lesson of leaving is not in the longing
clinging to the memory of a back, receding.
The lesson is in dusting off your jeans
and reaching to your hip
to find out what to do next.

 

Thanks to skycielo for the prompt “empty swing set”! If I use a prompt you’ve left for me, I’ll give you a shoutout!

37

Keep the candle alight
so you can see me
even with less.

Crescent moon:
those going through the hardest times
often seem the softest.
Check on the strong friends
because they’ve learned to glow at night
even with only a quarter of themselves.

If you often find solace
against someone else’s shoulder,
always be sure to leave the floor to them
when your tears are dry.

I’ve felt the helplessness
of losing a friend
who couldn’t tell his story
loud enough so I could hear.
Did we fail each other?

There comes a point where it’s up to us
to open our ears
pour some tea
and listen to the strong ones;
their stories of sadness are just as sad
as the ones they gave advice on
when the words came out of your mouth.

 

Thank you to skycielo for giving me the prompt ‘crescent moon’ and AP Christopher for giving me the word ‘solace’! If I use a prompt you’ve left for me, I’ll give you a shoutout if I use it!