in loving memory of Chug Siu
a little boy with jet black hair
has already seen too much
the last name Yang sticks out against
ground the color of rotting meat
he doesn’t hear his mother’s cries
her whispers of we must save him
he doesn’t hear the violence
he doesn’t know what to listen for.
the young man with jet black hair
doesn’t want his new name
Chang is only two letters off
but saves him from war-torn China
Chang leaves behind his mother and father
and everything he ever knew.
the young man can’t write
or rather, the soldier can’t read
Chang on a forged passport becomes Chug
and the young man with jet black hair
sits in a boat with his back to the wind
the further from Yang, the better.
the old man trades jet black hair for streaks of silver
and hands Chug to his daughter in a box with a doll
and a yellow silk dress
the name falls from her to me
but Chug sounds funny on private school playgrounds
mixed with middle names like Elizabeth and John
little boys and girls spit out a laugh and point
chewed fingers saying she’s different she’s weird.
a young woman
(her hair not quite as black)
fidgets in her seat as she fills out the forms before her
what is your middle name? they ask.
she leaves the question blank.
By Nooshin Ghanbari
Nooshin Ghanbari is a third-year English major at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was recently awarded the 2016 Ellen Engler Burks Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing. She currently serves as the assistant poetry editor of The Nocturnal Literary Review, the official journal of the university’s Plan II Honors program. Her poetry has previously appeared in Skylark Review.