An Apology Letter

to My Motherland

Simone Liang

Dear Motherland,

womb of my identity

fertile ground of ancestry

my cultural background story,

 

Please accept my sincere apology

for leaving you behind

in hidden lunch boxes that remained

airtight

for avoiding you

in the overcrowded ethnic food aisle

for wishing you didn’t exist on every international flight

to an awkward family reunion

during which I remained radio silent out of defiance.

 

What can I say?

I listened to the white man

and gladly erased my foreign name

in place of one that felt good

on my teacher’s tongue

on the first day of second grade.

 

Don’t you see?

I was tripping over the white boy

so I bleached the roots of my hair

to make sure he didn’t know where you were planted.

I ripped apart the colored parts of my body

because I knew Sarah and Molly wouldn’t like me

if I came as a used coloring book.

 

I hope you understand

that I only severed my ties to you

because I was tired of being oversimplified.

I refused to learn your tongue

in fear of being marginalized.

Forgive me for being fickle.

I am defiant when I get confused

for the girl with black hair that sits behind me

but taking attendance

still brings me to my knees.

 

Did you know that the first time I felt connected to you

was when I saw someone that looked like me on the silver screen?

Once, my brothers and sisters that wore their melanin proudly

peeled back the bandages they had layered on so carefully

to show me that the wounds from the slurs

turn into scars that look like roots.

They told me that pain sprouts survival

which blossoms into pride.

 

And that’s when I found you again

lodged in the foreign films

wafting from my kitchen table

buried in my mother’s closet

welling with the tears from my grandfather’s eyes

who wished he actually knew me.

 

I can’t tell if you are shaking your head

or reaching with outstretched arms across the oceans.

I can only beg for forgiveness.

 

Sincerely,

the children caught between two worlds.

Simone Liang is seventeen years old and attends Southeast High School.

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