A is for apples shipped fresh off the
Boat. At 2 pm we left math to go where
Children are taught
English and English at home.
For example, Sun-Ah who named herself Sunny
Grabbed blue pills from a plastic bag,
Held the medicine in her palm. Teachers called me in—
Ibuprofen, I say. I am seven,
Just learned the word because Sunny sputtered
Korean that they’re painkillers.
Look, English was my second language but
My tongue was new.
Never had to teach me to curl my Rs
Or how to say girl, blueberries, raspberries. In second grade, I
Played Peter Rabbit’s mother rabbit, still don’t
Quite know how that happened or even
Remember what my lines were.
Still, when the Chicago Field Museum unveiled Sue
The T-Rex, I was Sue the dinosaur, before that, Sue who lived in an old shoe.
Usually I said “Yes, like the T-Rex without the useless e at the end.”
Versions of my selves in ESL exist but I was kept there, after proficiency.
Who else could translate for the teachers, my parents, and Sunny’s parents?
X was for xylophones, x-rays, and now xenophobia.
Yes, that’s too on the nose, but things on your nose are hardest to see.
Z is for a zero, zigzagging between classrooms to say she has a fever, she misses home.