"Where are you from?"

By Wen Hsiao

“Where are you from?”,
a question I could never answer,
every time I’m asked, my fears multiply.
“What’s the deal with her?”
I hear all the questions but I can’t reply.

“Where are you from?”,
before I could move my lips, I felt tongue tied,
the times before race through my mind.

The time where it made me feel numb, 
and made me lose my pride,
they’re looking at me like I’m an odd kind.

The sharp laughter. (Ha!)
The strange looks. (What?)
The look of horror. (Ah!)
The sound of disappointment. (That?)

“That’s not a real country.”
“Do people even live there?”
“How does it feel to be conquered by others?”

It also made me want to hide behind a tree,
it simply isn’t fair,
but why was I so bothered by the opinion of others?

I know where I am from,
I am proud of where I am from,
even though people deny where I am from.

Of course, sometimes I feel like chewed gum
that lost all of its flavor, or even a broken thumb,
but how come?

Why is where I identified as home someone else’s dilemma?
I’ve read my history textbook from back to back, 
I could easily teach them a lesson on
my country, l'ile de formosa,
as the Portuguese sailors swoon over, beauty isn’t what it lacks,
it isn’t something you can buy at Walmart with a coupon.
It’s my country, l’ile de formosa.

“Where are you from?”

The time where I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs,
my heart filled with nothing but pride,
but fear soon overcomes and I feel dumb.
I couldn’t control anyone’s tongues
but my own, I couldn’t make them pick sides.

“Where are you from?”

The time where I cried in the bathroom,
when a girl told me my country is filled with sinners and failures.
Hear me out, even though it may seemed dumb
that those words easily hurt me and how I escaped to the bathroom,
my cries must have scared my neighbors.

As I grew, those words began scaring me less and less,
I knew no matter what people thought of me,
it didn’t matter, because I knew where I belonged.

The time where I finally squeezed out those words I had repressed,
somehow managed to not flee,

“Where are you from?”

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