MEMORY, 1998 By Kaitlyn Wang

MEMORY, 1998

Bloated with voices,
the restaurant falls silent
when the door opens to admit
a mother, father, daughter.

An unfamiliar yellow.

Children—
ashamed to gawk
but still wanting to look—
cover their eyes with their fingers

and peer through the gaps.
As they walk across the room,
The Yellow feels them staring.
But decades later, the family recounts

the scene, laughing. They don’t mind
how human the children were. They insist
on a story about them & them. Us & us.
Listen: this story is & always will be

& I refuse to turn this in-
to an us versus them, an U.S. versus them,
because we exist: proudly—
undoubtedly, undeniably, unquestionably.

We’re American as mooncakes
& tangyuan & shriveled tongues
& mama’s lonely calligraphy brushes.
We’re American as the poems carved

on Angel Island walls. We wear our hyphens,
polished, gleaming. The only model we’ll be
is model of in your face we’re here we are
& we’re here to stay so we’ll all roll out

our welcome mats & invite us to stay
for dessert. Let us fill this house
with stories. Let us find what it is
that makes a country ours.

Let us find ourselves.

By Kaitlyn Wang

Biography:

Kaitlyn Wang is a high school senior from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a poetry reader for Polyphony H.S. and a poetry editor of Soundings, her school’s art and literary magazine. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and she is a California Arts Scholar.

 

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