Looking in the mirror, nine years old,
Almond eyes blink.
And I hate them, wishing they were bigger.
Shiny dark hair, smooth honey skin
In a world full of blonde curls and blue eyes.
Words come to my ears:
"Look, an Asian with her rice!"
"Why are your eyes so small?"
"All Asians look the same!"
And now I bring sandwiches to school.
My heritage is like an old sweater:
Not used, not worn, pushed to the back of my closet.
When asked about it, I shove it further away
And hope that one day I will wake up white.
Nineteen years old, looking in the mirror,
Same eyes, same skin, same face.
I still hear the comments and I still feel the shame,
Hot, burning shame that makes my heart clench.
But I fix my hair, my dark, straight, shiny hair
And I smile, my brown eyes becoming smaller.
I take out the old sweater from the back of the closet.
I put it on, and admire how I look -
Because I am Vietnamese and I stand tall.