By Shirley Lu
Father, Can You Hear Me?
Chinese children grow to respect
their parents, their country, and their blood.
I must be cursed, not a dragon descent,
only having a cold that was never cured.
“Take antibiotics,” you have always said.
“But I am allergic….” Then you would cut
me off, tell me either to obey or
to die. Nine thousand miles away
from you, I drank herbal tea instead,
unable to rest, still scratching the itch-less skin.
When I was in primary school, you walked me
home on rainy days, hunchback leading
the way in silent mud. You would not shield
me under your umbrella. You did not like
my jokes. So each step chilled me more,
as the rain soaked into my bones. I had to carry
the backpack myself, feeling my spine
cracked into a curve. Ten years later
in the snow, I went to school alone,
unable to speak, still holding the sound-less breath.
When I was in middle school, I wanted to quit piano.
Metronome banged on the keyboard,
never in rhythm with tears and scream.
Even when I won the competition,
you told me, “Your waltz sounded
like drilling wood.” I refused to drill.
You refused to give me food, shutting me
out of the family’s door. A hundred beats
faster than that song, I performed my full recital,
unable to end, still waiting for the praise-less note.
Now I am in high school, you wished you had
known me better. For two years, you only wrote
one email: Do you love me, my daughter?
Do I love you? Have I ever loved you?
Or has China crushed me into dust?
I tried to reply,
but you hung up on my call last night.
Shirley Lu, in her own words: I am a sixteen-year-old girl from China, currently studying at Milton Academy. In eighth grade, I decided I should explore a new culture, perceive a new worldview, and find a new self while I am still young. So I came to the States, where my pursuit for writing officially started. I have been writing stories ever since I was a little kid, but my parents never seemed to care much about my “masterpieces.” In high school, arts became mandatory, and without any hesitation, I chose to take creative writing to fulfill my arts requirement. To my surprise, although English is my second language, I actually find my own voice through poetry and fiction writing. Creative writing offers me a way to discover and express myself – my Asian heritage, my identity, and my self-awareness in the battle of cultural conflicts. Last December, The Marble Collection, Massachusetts High School Magazine of the Arts kindly accepted two of my poetry submissions. Being a member on the speech team, I also perform my literary pieces at tournaments. I learned about the YARN magazine from my creative writing teacher, Mr. James Connolly. I am looking forward to share my writing with more readers and invite them to join me in the exploration of identities!