An Apology Letter
to My 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
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.
the children caught between two worlds.
Simone Liang is seventeen years old and attends Southeast High School.