So this is who you are — bright young
scholar, face like white peach. Soft and
luminous. Ripe for the picking.
Scholar, tell me which poison you prefer;
this five foot body of yours could not have
survived the head rush of a hell ride of a
high school career without the aid of
substances and abuse. Tell me, scholar,
did you wrap your tongue around the
firewood of Ambition? Or perhaps
Pressure did it to you; it is commonly
known as the violet liquid that chokes.
So, scholar, ready your arrows. However
many you brought is your number of
chances. May your aim ring true, may you
aim for something that sticks; remember that
I am your target, my iris what you hope to
penetrate. Force me to look at you. I will
catch your arrows in my palms and I will
decide if they break skin.
Asian girl, how are you unlike the others?
Asian girl, you better bite your nails into
daggers and pray that I christen you tiger.
Let me tell you about the girl who wrote
poems. The girl who spoke in quivering
birdsong and shy smile. Shy smile pulled
back, to reveal pearls of ice caps, craters of
moon; otherwise known as the dirty white
pebbles we kick for fun in America.
And gums that bleed like disease. No, I
don’t want to see your thin, bleeding blade
of lip pronounce “raw” and “visceral” and
“my words will bring chaos into order”
because no one will believe that, sweetie.
No one will believe that you are a fanged,
wild thing because, look at you, face like
dumpling, cue the shy smile.
Recognize the space we have set aside for
you and wedge yourself into the corners.
Suck in your breath to obliterate your ribs.
Learn how to contort your limbs at eleven,
cut off the meat that can’t be served at
thirteen; take every poison, for it will
cleanse you of your immigrance, and we
will buy you Shanghai mules. And we will
mispronounce your name with our glorious
red tongues; and that’s on good days when
we can match name to face, but you’re all
Kims anyway, so who cares? Oh, don’t let
this deter you. Even as you stare at your
bruised, broken cowboy boots, you will feel
terribly — awfully — desperately —
eternally grateful to be here.
– Audrey Kim
This poem represents my anxieties about college application season approaching. As an Asian American who struggles with STEM subjects, I often compare myself to my peers and wonder if the elite colleges my generation holds in such high regard will see anything of value in a poet like me. Although the poem itself maintains a grim tone, I sincerely believe that I — and everyone else applying to college — will end up going to the place they are meant to be.
Audrey Kim (she/her) is a writer from Torrance, California. She is a columnist for the Jupiter Review, a writer for Neutral Citizen Journalism, and a book reviewer for The Young Writers Initiative. When she’s not watching anime, she’s reading novels by Donna Tartt. She was born in 2004.
Cover Photo Source: UpLabs