no prince gallops into your life
on a noble steed & whisks you away
to a faraway, problem-free land.
instead, you fall in love with
a man who was your friend first,
became your sounding board
& with whom you will continue to
go on adventures & travel the world —
which is better than a fairy tale.
over two decades ago,
you mastered the art of
creating diversions to diffuse
tempestuous timebombs who
have become strangers
& left you wondering,
“how do I share anything
(much less, genetic material)
with these people?”
to our generation’s (version of) paper pushers
whose eyes worsen as they’re glued to computer screens
who type ninety-five words per minute
who have carpal tunnel before graduation
whose nine to five grind depletes creativity
whose cubicle is a prison until happy hour
who never thought they would work for the man —
you didn’t sell out —
you took the pragmatic way out.
at age ten,
a weasel-faced blonde boy calls you fat
because you consistently get
better grades than him
& insists a brown girl doesn’t belong
at a school with (superior) white kids.
you quip that you live in
a nicer neighborhood than his,
but the real reason you’re better than him
is that he’ll always be a covetous jerk.
at age twelve,
a freckled ginger boy scrubs your arms
with a pool brush after swim practice
& claims that he thought the white splotches
(of sunburn) on your dark skin was dirt.
you shove him into the pool
& watch him sputter,
coughing water in surprise.
your coach’s punishment is that
you have to swim extra (victory) laps.
at age fourteen,
a thin brunette girl snidely snickers,
“you’re not pretty. you’re cute like hello kitty.”
you weren’t allowed to wear makeup
or dress like her eighteen-year-old sister.
after braces straighten your crooked teeth
& your only growth spurt sheds baby fat,
you decline her offer to be friends —
even then, you’d rather be alone than have
catty friends you didn’t like (& vice-versa).
at age sixteen,
(until almost a decade following)
a parade of basic white guys marvel
over the fact that you’re the first Asian girl
they’ve admired who defies stereotypes —
you’ve inherited your mother’s feistiness
& your father’s no bullshit attitude.
though your temperament mellows over the years,
you loudly continue to refuse to be fetishized
& mock white guys who should check their privilege.
at age twenty-three,
your handsome ivorian friend becomes more.
you’ll never look like models in magazines,
but you’ve learned to appreciate that
your black hair is unruly
& your skin’s base tone is deep tan.
the ways that you look different
no longer (solely) define you.
he knows all of you & loves you
because of (not in spite of) it.