leng leng

Poetry

my niece. blonde-brown curls and round cheeks 

big(ger) eyes/pale pale (brown) skin

the neighborhood aunties comment. she’s so white!

eyes so big!/mixed children are just prettier

she is so pretty. like one of those cherubs

from raphael’s sistine madonna

faces resting in fat hands/bored demeanors/eyes rolled up

to the skies, framed above my grandparent’s bed

even she thinks she’s pretty. sometimes she

looks in the mirror and says to herself: leng leng

she’s so smart! my grandmother beams. she

recognizes her own beauty. one day i’ll tell her

you are an ocean. because you love eating rice in bone broth, because

chinese falls out of your mouth like smooth marbles, because

when your great-grandfather bounces you on his knee his ninety-two

years on this earth distill into a grain of salt. you contain the histories

of laboring women and men, their backs like rounded hills among

the peanut fields. you contain revolutions, failed and successful.

but she’s only two years old. she looks

in the mirror, she smiles. leng leng

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