Mirrors

By Qiang Zhang

She stares at me,
Black hair, almond eyes,
The words they used to describe Asian Americans,
In those old American first-grade novels,
Still stacked on my shelves.

I ask her,
How did you come to be?
She says,
I am War. Bitterness. Screams.
The march of thousands of soldiers,
Who never saw tomorrow.

She says,
I am silken sheets,
And the rich vibrations of,
Mighty- mighty rivers,
Elephant tusk chopsticks
And the brushed ink whispers from
Ancient poets,
Who stared at an unforgiving moon,

She says,
I am the touch of a 5,000 year history,
On the shape of dynasties,
A lost elegance,
That those who seek,
Find only shadows,

Do you know of me?

No, I respond.

I know only,
That I learned who George Washington was,
Before Mao Zedong,
That Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet
But Confucius had something to do with,
Asia and philosophy,

I know only,
Of a culture that asks me “Where are you from?”,
As if I could not recite,
All the American presidents,
Better than the Chinese dynasties,
A culture that says I eat dogs,
That tells me my parents are stiff, stern, uncreative, orthodox,

I know only,
That I am a color in the great melting pot,
Of diversity,
In a culture too white for the color,
Of my skin.

She looks at me with my eyes,
And I see a black haired girl,
With almond shaped eyes
Who was never really an answer,
To anyone’s question.

The mirror breaks,
With broken shards,
That reflected nothing but the truth---
The crushing truth that,

I belong,

Neither to my heritage,
Nor to this land I called my own.

** This essay is a finalist entry to the "Who Am I?" Multimedia Essay Contest 2017.