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In considering it we should come to an understanding of the nature of lyric, the purpose of this essay.
On days when we were too drawn to the TV upstairs, we would wait for my mother to recite our names – always in order of birth.It is a response to a familiar experience: introducing oneself to a group of strangers. How do I summarize, in thirty seconds, everything which adds up and equals a neat little bundle called Me?How do I present myself in a user-friendly format, complete with “Help” buttons and batteries? First of all, I am a girl who wandered the aisles of Toys “R” Us for two hours, hunting in vain for a doll with a yellowish skin tone. During that time I also first heard the term “chink,” and I wondered why people were calling me “a narrow opening, usually in a wall.” People expected me to love studying and to enjoy sitting in my room memorizing facts for days and days.When my mother said my name, not one of the three syllables was diluted or mangled, assimilated or Americanized.Effortlessly, she would paddle forward and ride the wave of the double ‘n’ and subsequent vowel, then bend around the hard consonant – never neglecting intonation at any point.And who or what determines when a person starts feeling American, and stops feeling Chinese? I hated the limp vegetables hanging out of soggy cardboard boxes. I hated the smell of fish being chopped, of meat hanging in a window. Or am I some unholy mixture of both, doomed to stay torn between the two? Over time, I started to respond to the butchered version of my name.It did not sound as sweet, but I acquired the taste.The essay on Poetry is itself poetic throughout in its expression.The one in print is my first essay in the way of telling a tale.