Friday Poem


There are many ways of saying Chinese
in American. One means restaurant.
Others mean comprador, coolie, green army.

I’ve been practicing
how to walk and talk,
how to dress, what to do in a silk shop.

How to talk. America: Meiguo,
second tone and third.
The beautiful country.

In second grade we watched films
on King in Atlanta.
How our nation was mistaken:

They said we had hidden the Japanese
in California.
Everyone apologized to me.

But I am from Eldorado Drive
in the suburbs. Sara Lee’s
pound cake thaws in the heart

of the home, the parakeet bobs on a dowel,
night doesn’t move. The slumber party
teems in its spot in the dark

summer; the swimming pool gleams.
Somewhere an inherited teapot is smashed
by a baseball. There may be spaces

in the wrong parts of the face,
but America bursts with things it was never meant
to have: the intent to outlast

the centerless acres,
the wedding cake tiered to heaven.
Every season a new crop of names,

like mine. It’s different
because it fits on a typewriter,
because it’s first in its line,

because it is Adrienne.
It’s French.
It means artful.

by Adrienne Su