E.Chen, 11th - Burlingame, CA
this is an apology to my mother
for forgetting my Chinese name
and the sharp slice of a Mandarin vowel.
mother, i promise you i will learn to mold my mouth
back into its mother form, learn to fold my teeth
until they are instruments for speaking
Chinese. mother, i promised the Gods
i will not erase my mother tongue,
but English is a sharp knife,
thats been honed to dull Chinese,
and so forgive me if my name crumbles like
fireworks at your doorstep, forgive me if my name
totters and tumbles like Chinese checkers.
mother, English is a hard stain to wash out of the jaw, but
mother, i promise you i will climb into my mouth, scrape
the walls of my throat, harden my tongue, until I can
sculpt my name in perfect Chinese.
Students 6th-12th Grades