the language of a migrant

what is a new year’s resolution / but admitting you didn’t grow the basil properly / your father’s eyes / have begun harvest / of a milky white galaxy / & you still need to learn how to drive / is resolving to be better / not another way of saying you never do the laundry / over dim sum / your father turns an eyebrow on your lover / tells her the chinese worship white america / it’s a debate which fortuneteller gave your name / language is a tether & you want to speak / one summer / you played outside until your skin ripened into gold / & your mother put you inside the fridge for a week / is it surprising / that your father’s favorite part of visiting / was the banana bread / & its perfect golden crack / your father goes on about how perfect / the english language is / how you can say many things in few words / but how do you say / this country is broken / this country colonized your tongue / this country taught his a myopic hate / & built trains to die for / in fewer words than this

Elaine Hsiang is a resident physician and poet in San Francisco. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of one day i will be louder than all the bruises on your knees (pizza pi press, 2015). Her work can be found in Foglifter, Rigorous, Bone Bouquet, The Examined Life, and others. Her Twitter can be found at @egnaish.