Stale with cologne and hair tonic
crowded trains rush through rice fields
suited men absorbed in thick comic books
I in bagging red tights and plaid skirt
do not let the gray kimono ladies' frowns
squelch my laughter among my blond-haired friends
Stares and murmurings have grown up with me
the street vendor awed when I purchase
hot octopus and thank him in his native tongue
I dream of the America I only know through
The Partridge Family reruns dubbed in Japanese
where Lincolns and Chevrolets cruise wide streets
But when the mysterious motherland I visit,
they ask nothing about hot bowls of noodles,
deer at the temple or stuffy train rides to school
A belly filled with Hershey chocolate and apple pie
the envy of my blond-haired friends
I count the days till Gaijin will be my name again.
about the poem:
* Gaijin: Japanese word for foreigner.
This poem was the winner of the Carolina Woman Writing Contest in NC in May 2001.