My Grandmother's Home

in my 婆婆’s house,

things are never used for

their intended purpose.

her oven is filled with

plastic containers,

styrofoam takeout trays,

old yogurt cups.

she does not clear them out,

never turns on the oven,

does not cook there.

the space between the metal

racks are for

safekeeping.

my 婆婆’s five children

were all children once.

some grew up

fast —

left in Hong Kong,

or stayed clutching her pant leg,

waiting for the jet bridge to lower

them

to new lands.

in california,

the kids were kids sometimes,

caretakers others.

after some years,

each one escaped the house with

the oven and its plastic

containers

and yogurt containers that held

soup,

squash, bok choy,

whatever else that needed

saving.

they walked out of the house,

closed the door,

heard it slam behind them as they

drove away.

my 婆婆 still kept the containers.

waited night and day

for children that rarely called,

made 冬瓜 soup for grandchildren

that complained.

this was not supposed to happen.

those containers

with scribbled Chinese characters

on yellow stickers

placed haphazardly over English

printed words

were supposed to

save us,

shelter us,

give us a place to call

home.

years later,

we watch 婆婆 shuffle around her

house,

the one my mom bought for her.

the children installed a camera

to make sure 婆婆 is safe when

no one is with her.

i always thought that 婆婆 loved

her things:

her plastic containers, her orange

shag carpet,

her hair curlers that used to

belong to my dolls.

i think though, if given the choice,

she would gladly throw away

those things,

if it meant filling up her home with

children who were not there

out of obligation

and grandchildren who could

speak 台山話 back.

Christina Ong is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests span womxn of color in social movements, transnational feminism, and theories of race & ethnicity. She is currently working on her MA thesis that traces the development of Asian American identity through New York’s Basement Workshop, the first pan-Asian political organization on the East Coast active in the 1970’s.

Warrior Women by Riley Brooks and Meixi

I am a warrior
I am Indigenous
I am gay
I am trans
I am the land under your
feet keeping us together
I am the waves
pushing pushing pushing
I am the wind swimming
through your sea of long lost
locks
I am the raging fire that
cleans and controls
I am a person
but mostly a queen

We are women
I am not your property
I am not the smells
swirling shifting sifting
through the house
I am not a mask of makeup
or a pearly pink dress
I am not the flight attendant
I am the pilot
My body is not yours
My body is beauty and bliss
The blood that I shed
swoosh swoosh
Like the moon our darkness is light
the moon cries the shine of
watery eyes
we are not missing
we are still here.

I cry for the voices of my sisters
They whisper in my ears
The songs that I hear
Like a bullet in the breeze
We come from years of resistance
Do you not remember?
We come from the 7 generations
We come from the 4 directions
Do you not remember?
We come from the land
We come from the water
Remember.
We are the language coursing
Through your veins

Aho
Aw bo yi ja
I know I know I know

Lose the lightness of your tongue
It’s system like walls dividing and
Writing the “right” thing in our minds
Collapsing our veins into alcohol filled trains
Buzzing and whirling
Contaminating our very existence
Our future ancestors are connected through
lands and seas.
Do you not see me?
Do you not hear me?
My scars help me heal
What the appeal?
My heroines will not bow down.


riley.jpg

Riley Brooks (14) Kiowa