Photo by Jaeyoung Geoffrey Kang on Unsplash

When I Was Naive

We practiced our haibun in my grad school poetry class. This was my result.

The tsinelas on my feet do not protect me from the grains of sand. My mother's pale skin is a gentle reminder for me to protect my face from the sun, so I don't get tan like my ancestors. But the freckles sprinkled on my cheeks are my tell. I have no poker face here. A murder of cacti and bloopy tumbleweeds in wide, open spaces.
But that can't be true.
My childhood was the green grass that made me itch, the hand-me-down purple banana seat bike, and the depths of my imagination. Selling candy to go to Great America with the school band, driving to Chinatown in the City for siopao in the pink boxes, pausing briefly at Treasure Island, pointing out the house where Kuya broke his arm, the house where they used to live years before I was born. But that was never my home. It was theirs.
My house was in the Southside, cheap side, wrong side.
Driving over the lion bridge twice a day separating us from them,
Dreaming of cheesecake from the kitchen that I loved so much.
I cooked rice in that house,
I cleaned the toilets in that house,
I wept for the shards of my broken heart in that house.
But I am not home.
Not Filipino enough for the Filipinos,
not American enough for the Americans;
too Filipino for the Americans,
too American for the Filipinos.
But I am not American.
I am not Filipino.
I belong to both.
I belong to neither.
Brown skin and big nose
What is normal anyways
Crown Princess of Earth. 

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