“my exorcist is a white woman” by Claudia Carmen Chan2 min read

12 September, 2019 0 comment

1932, Toisan, Guandong. my grandmother shared ten years with her mother before she passed away and lived an ocean apart from her father until 1979 when she, my aunt and my father were able to reunite with him in Coquitlam, BC.

i sit across the room from her,
as she calibrates my eyes
in their sockets
with her mind
she expels the shock
that protrudes
the flesh of my vision
as if i myself watched
the japanese march through a land
i’ve never known,
but still
is a place of a time that
travels through my blood

she lives in me,
my great-grandmother,
who expired from fear
at the possibility
of a body

how can you fault a woman
for abandoning her only daughter
while her husband lives amongst white men across the pacific
her life force chose to preserve her sacred feminine
than to be brutalized,
than to have her parts cut up
by an intruder who kind of looks like you

who in a western time and place
would be intermittently welcome to traverse
into Chinatown
from Japantown
to join your kind
on common ground
as the whites
close in on us

we appear stronger in numbers
because they think we we look the same

do you forgive them for a moment
as enemy becomes ally
as the whites
hurl words of profanity at us,
break our mortars

can you forget that the former
terrorized the mother who gave life to her daughter,
who gave life to your father
for something that happened so far away


my body quakes
and startles
from past wars
it hasn’t forgotten
the nightmares
of my ancestors

it doesn’t know
how to escape
the japanese,
and the communists,
and now
the whites
how to escape

the body
flees its skin
the body
flees the earth
the body
flees its borders
the body flees

until the white woman puts me back
in my body
so that it can swallow the truth
of an ugly history
that i didn’t chose

my exorcist is a white woman is a series of collected thoughts on the toilsome and costly undoing of internalized racism, somatic imbalances, and identity dysmorphia. Claudia Carmen Chan comes from five generations of transient Chinese-Canadian migrants; she is researching, contemplating and writing about the inheritance of a diasporic experience.

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