By Anne Rhee
This poem explores the generational gap that is felt by first-generation Asian immigrant parents and their children. While communication may seem difficult at first, it is still possible to find hope and reconciliation.
heavy, brittle, disembodied, he struggles to form the breaks and snaps in this new language, longing, for the comfort of the waterfall of his Korean, but his daughter insists, eyes sparkling of western conceptions and modernization, her voice automated, metallicized, a silver cacophony of noise that never seems to fade, the air lingering with its brilliance. He stares at his daughter through a glass wall, expanding in thickness and size, his words are the barrier, his mouth, the barrier. sometimes he is so frustrated, that he wishes he could tear his mouth, tear this imaginary border that has dislocated him into isolation. but he cannot do it. his words, alive, but dying. strangled in the thick abyss of his throat, buried in their graves before they are borne into the world. he knows that once he releases his first word of English he will be confined to a prison of a language, caged, limited. no, he will clutch his roots and his homeland, no, he refuses to be jailed. but his heart bleeds raw with the prospect of knowing that the price for not entering is the wall. he sees the secret embarrassment in her eyes when he speaks in Korean. for her father to be so foreign, so Old World she is confused. she doesn’t know how to live between these two worlds, fluttering from English to Korean, wanting to not have to choose one over the other. she becomes angry, small liquid bursts, small petty arguments. until one day, it becomes a flood of anger, warm and alive with years of choked resentment, until she snaps back to reality, snaps back to loving her father. she has become a demon, feeding off a thirst of revenge for what immigrating has done to her image of her father. another flood, a flood of tears, salty and preserved its too strong for her, too strong for her to stop and control, too incoherent to bring back coherence. she doesn’t care anymore, doesn’t care about fitting in, and her tears break down the wall, break it until only fragments remain. too small to separate them now. they stand there. two souls. one offers the other a hand. the other takes it.
Anne Rhee is a writer based in NYC. She began writing poetry for fun three years ago and has recently started writing short stories and different multimedia pieces. She likes to focus on themes such as immigration, generational divides, and language. Her pieces have been published in the Girls Write Now Anthology and the Stuyvesant Spectator. She was also a recipient of two Bronze Honorable Mentions from the Scholastic Writing competition. In her free time, she likes to make Pinterest boards, lists, and listen to Ariana Grande.