You Ask My Origins by Vivian Lee

I’m from the dry red dirt

of He’nan

I’m from the thatched roads

of China’s countryside

with the dirty, minimally-clad children

running on the unpaved streets

or in Beijing’s communist concrete roads


I’m from the paved streets


of Ning Po

where a girl itches her long fingers,

staring at her classmate playing

the violin

while a boy looks at the closed fists of his father

telling him he has to quit school

to work for jia


I’m from the immigrants who rode the rocky boat


to leave the land of death, oppression

and permanent children of Atlas.


I’m from the dream of


Gatsby’s mansions, and

silver platters waiting for me
in the land

where Liberty bell rings.