My manicurist tells me
she left her country because she sought a better life.
Now she makes people pretty for a living.

I watch her draw little flowers on my toes
and meticulously glue pin-sized rhinestones.
My feet relax and… more »

In preschool I learned to speak
English consonants and vowels
tumbling out my toddler mouth:
No. No. I want. I know.

Turned my back on my parents’
tongue, Chinese phonemes too difficult
and different from everyone else. Beaded
together clumsy … more »

He tries so hard to prove himself—
Through every syllable, every word,
he enunciates slowly,
Pursuing excellence, perfection
but, the words refuse to cooperate with his work.

And so, he feels shame rising
over a language
he cannot control,
over … more »

Tired, so tired,
held up by fraying strings,
she’d drag us through throngs
at sales. We’d shrivel,
she’d fume. “Service!
I need service!”
Clerks could never
shush her.

At restaurants, overlooked
single mom with three kids, no father
to focus … more »

Our new L-shaped house embraced
a pool as its heart, a curving
figure eight, turquoise shimmer
mirroring turquoise clapboard.
My father’s pristine pride
May through September. He’d
skim off leaves, vacuum sediment,
push the long-poled brush along the bottom
back … more »

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