sunpale

relatives would ask
whether i’d dyed my hair
i would tell them honestly
that no, i hadn’t, i’d just
spent a lot of time in the sun

and that would happen
every summer
and i’m certain that some of them
never believed me

that my dark brown hair
could go so light
naturally

another reminder to me
that while i claim Khmer,
my thin, straight hair will always
signify thick rivers of Chinese ancestry,
just as my clothes, my speech, and
even the look in my eyes give away
my California upbringing

so, it’s evident
that it will never be clear
what tribe i belong to
which might be why
i seem to be perpetually
gathering people
ready to belong to
ready to belong with
them,
for whatever length of time

some might say that
to belong everywhere
is to belong nowhere
and i suppose that’s true
but i know
that i am here.

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2 thoughts on “sunpale

  1. shortnmorose says:

    “so, it’s evident
    that it will never be clear
    what tribe i belong to
    which might be why
    i seem to be perpetually
    gathering people
    ready to belong to
    ready to belong with
    them,
    for whatever length of time”

    i think this is why I feel akin to you even across the country <3

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