Lucky girl, they call me. Fortune cookie girl.
But it is not luck folded in the crevice
behind my ribs, underneath my heart.
Year of the hare, but no rabbit’s feet here;
I braid clovers into my hair
because we don’t collect those in China,
don’t press them between book pages –
we have been told over the years
that magic can’t grow from the ground,
that the Yellow River ran us a yellow
brick road across the Pacific but paled
in comparison to America’s Golden Gates.
We buried fathers and husbands and sons
in the only cemetery you can see from the moon,
their spirits walling in the greatness we
have always known we could be,
only to come here, generations later,
to lay our nameless bones down as railroad track,
spirits locked to a country
we had wrongly named beautiful.
Lucky girl, they call me, but never
my name, too afraid of tripping over the soft corners
of a language I spent seventeen years
wanting so desperately to forget,
only to find it tattooed on the soles of my feet,
reminding me always what it is that lifts me.
I spent years committing the Pledge
of Allegiance to memory,
but I rolled out of my mother’s womb
with a mouth full of 中文,
my teeth gripping the edges of a country
that will always come first.
Fortune cookie girl, they call me, made in America,
who are you trying to fool.
I am only lucky once every twelve years,
but the red I wear for the lunar year
is the red of the United States is the red of China, and
I have never understood why it was the North Star
that pointed home when it was only ever
yellow stars I could see.