my mother tells me by Eva Gu

she likes her accent. it doesn’t hurt

when the broken edges of her english cut her

the way they cut ariel’s feet when she

walked on the shards of her slippers.

a long time ago her english teacher once told her

never to be ashamed of who

she was, that americans love

the accents of the exotic, and i

was too ashamed of my country to tell her

the truth: that we love the white sand beaches of third world countries, but forget when

malnutrition shrivels their bones

just as easily as ours

fatten. how could i explain that when her english teacher said the exotic, he meant



and french?

mother, i hated having to break the truth

to you: that there’s a line between being

fashionably foreign and being

too foreign. those people only love

what’s theirs.


originally published in The Eunoia Review

Eva Gu is a Chinese American writer/poet. She has attended the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop, and her work is forthcoming in the Eunoia Review. She reads for Polyphony HS.

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