Monday, October 27, 2014
The Ballad of a Halfie
Today I am Asian: small eyes, dark hair
In an hour, I am white: strong hooked nose, pale skin
When I speak a foreign language you don't know, you gape.
But when I wear green on St. Pat's Day, you chuckle,
"Irish? You're not Irish."
You say I must speak Spanish--I look Spanish.
Whatever that means.
Or, no, I really don't know Mandarin? Cantonese?
What kind of a Chinese-American am I?
Well, that's easy--I'm not.
Surely I understand Yiddish?
Only as much as most New Yorkers do, ma'am.
But Russian? You don't speak Russian?
Nyet. I am not Russian.
I am a mirror
Of whatever mesh of cultures and features you want to see.
I can drink Guinness with aplomb and sing "Carrickfergus" 'til you weep.
I can make mochi and drink sake and belt-sing "Kawa No Narage."
So which am I? Irish-American? Irish from four generations ago?
Or Japanese? No, not really Japanese though--
And I say, "I am both. At the same time."
And your mind explodes. As if I should choose my father over my mother.
As if I should choose my grandmother's memories of the atom bomb
Over my family's stories of potato famines and Atlantic crossings.
I am not an Asian with a white father and I am not a white girl
With an Asian mother.
One drop does not wholly make me either.
And I am fully half of both sides.
So see what you want to see.
Chuckle and gape and be confused.
Because I am the future--
The future that's already here, under your eyes.
A mesh of race and culture and language
The true melting pot.
A whole halfie.