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  • Hannah Seo

To the Taiwanese boy in my 3rd grade class

Even now I am sorry

for avoiding your eyes (I tried to be subtle), your

presence — self-preservation

demanded I protect the façade with which I had

all those little white children fooled. You were

a threat, your existence

a foil, an unwanted origin story; my perfect English

made me taller, my perfect grades forgivable, neutralized

my eye shape (your fragmented

sentences only made yours smaller). God forbid we be

classed together — surely they see I’m domesticated,

passable, a copacetic facsimile

who can spew out vocabulary like copacetic facsimile —

a whole generation of belonging put articulation in my mouth

and ice in my eyes. Tongue bleached

(what was your name again?), ears resentful (hey, what did

he say?): how can I be your interpreter, why should you tint

my unpigmented selfscape —

the one I present with neither scent, nor taste, nor texture.



This poem was originally published in Barzakh Magazine on July 11, 2020.

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