2011 Fire Escape Poetry Contest: Second Prize

Second Prize 2011 Fire Escape Poetry Contests

I Am Too 

by Hailan China/CA, age 16

I am from
a snow still morning that perches aloft
and blushes at a wintry sunbeam kiss,
like crimson lanterns of velvety soft,
and red-pigtailed child’s sugar-coated bliss.
In rusty black bikes rattling and tattling,
letters and pretty art not prosaic,
into stifling swarms in subways battling,
these waves of heads, a weaving mosaic.
But as gossamer floating, passing by,
a tear for my home, and good-bye

I am from dumplings steaming
silky tofu quivering
and swirling memories of grins with each
savory smell of shops and fairs,
smooth, sliding noodles in rich beef broth
strawberries ruby red and glistening black seeds
luscious, plump, and steamy rice
dinner together, tonight, everyday
snapping chopsticks
and laughter leaping
happiness soaring

I am from
Milady and Amaranta,
loquacious Miss Bates,
a stubborn red-head, freckled too,
Hot cocoa on rainy days,
a single ivy leaf through a winter’s storm,
Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve,
Marmee knitting by the fire, a country gentleman,
and a muttering rabbit by their ear

I am from
delightful shelves of books and books
the art of losing is not hard to master
let other pens dwell on guilt and misery
nowadays a broken heart will run to many editions
it is a truth universally acknowledged
and down they forgot as up they grew
but most, most heartily,
the mere habit of learning to love is the thing

 Photos courtesy of ginerrobot and nightthree via creative commons

Hailan on Life Between Cultures:

The hardest about balancing two cultures is experiencing and knowing the uniqueness of both while seeing the often untrue stereotypes that each has about the other. It's difficult not to bristle when Chinese parents are mocked on Youtube or the word "communism" is flung with rampant fervor, even though it is ignorantly used. But by the same token, I can see the Chinese wrongful impressions of an American, often an unfair portrayal of laziness and gun-wielding danger. I'm glad that for many of us who have two cultures in our lives, we are knowledgeable of the inaccurate impressions that one culture may have of the other. But it is difficult to be courageous to step into the spotlight to bring up the subject because we are all very sensitive about nations and patriotism. Of course, I also know only a little about the world but am constantly learning. 

To me, the best part about being an immigrant has been the conglomeration of unique experiences of two very different cultures that I otherwise would not have had. I think experiencing both Chinese and American cultures has helped me grow as a more conscientious, observant person. It really has given me a broader perspective on people and life in general, and I hope that I will always be mindful of the people of all cultures because of my multicultural life.