When Asked Where I’m (Really) From

— Leah Silvieus

“To be Asian in America is to be quizzed, constantly, about your ethnicity. What are you? Where are you from? No, but where are your parents from?”
— Jeff Guo, The Washington Post

Between two halves
          of a canyon’s split lip,

                    whose namesake the streets sing—
          all that is holy

after opening day
          of hunting season: Remington,

                    Winchester, Pistol
          Drive. Full of sandstone

’n gunpowder.
          No-stoplight town

                    always taking,
          two kids, at least, each year:

pulled under by river snag,
          by huffing Krylon Gold,

                    accident of gorge’s curve
          or gunshot. If asked,

I’ll tell you:
          not where I’m from

                    but where I was made: wanting
          nothing but escape,

the only girl who knew
          how to play—called to accompany

                    wherever there was need.
          Bye, Bye

Birdie auditions, weddings
          & Lutheran ladies’ Christmas teas,

                    I was the girl who could
          sight-read a melody

but always had trouble
          keeping time, whose door

                    a mother’d come knocking on
          in the middle of the night,

asking for a song.


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