blasting my song
while dancing home
after work on a Friday.
sinking into an ice bath
when the a/c’s broken on
a scorching summer afternoon.
slowly drifting to sleep
in your arms every night.
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.
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.
a thousand ninety-five days
spent with you —
(feels longer & shorter
than that simultaneously)
hands held during long drives,
hugs after horrible days,
talks until dusk,
& breakfast at sunrise.
passion hasn’t cooled —
instead, it’s fueled by
our unshakable bond
& the way we push each other
to be our best selves.
no matter what
life throws our way,
we’ll always face it
you will (only) trust
those who embrace you
at your extremes —
you will (only) care for
those who recognize you
& don’t expect you to be.