Cultural Borderline

Mon, 08/05/2013 - 12:32 -- Chilli


My spirit calls out to my parents

How I long to mend

This relationship that got broken amongst the tides of assimilation

And those years of miscommunication.

This song

goes out to my Dad and Mom. 


Brought as a baby into this world

In Chiangkham, Thailand


Marked as a refugee

from a country

that has been lost in a bloodshed war.

Who would knew that beyond that camp fence

that encircles the camp,

there would be a brighter future

half a world’s length away.

But then again…there’s always a cost to dreams and beginnings 


Human eyes are blind

Before the walls of time.

So we can only trust

And strive forward

unknowing the future.

Reaching this new land,

We, let ourselves blend

into the melting pot of America.

Slowly assimilating,

Without  realizing

that our culture is fading. 

So I stand at the borderline

dividing fate and time,

the history of the Mekong

asking myself “What does it mean to be Hmong?”

In a generation where the young

are losing their native tongue.

Divisions between the new and old generation,

different values

results from lack of connection.


I can’t number how many of my generation

have already stopped trying.

They get discourage with the fact that their parents don’t understand them 

and then abandons the “respect for their elders”

Indeed that's why they say

that “blood is thicker than water.” 


I was also at the verge of giving up,

only to be so ignorant

so focused on my adolescent needs

I failed to see my parents,

Being looked down upon

So low…

By the tall, ignorant whiteness

Of Euro-Americans.

But to me, my parents are the most intelligent

And the fact that they speak broken English

doesn’t make them any more broken in dignity

Than the white person that they work for! 


Last time I saw my mother’s hair

I noticed 7 more white ones

Then I asked… “is it because of me?” 

White hair caused from mother’s over time hours,

in the late evenings and weekend mornings.

She has 1 daughter in college

And 5 other children adventuring life.

White hair from reminding us constantly

To do our homework and be good children. 


So hold me, Mother,

Brush the hair from my face

with the same gentle hands

that you used for embroideries.

The same hands used to feed me

so your baby girl won’t go hungry. 

And lift me up, Father,

place me on your shoulders

that allow me to see the world.

Have you forgotten

your eldest daughter 

Who you spent late nights caring for

And taught to be strong woman? 


And I know I was wrong to be angry when you made me make phone calls;

when I didn’t know anything about mortgage or insurance

you yell at me and say “Then why did you go to school for?”

Now I realize that my hurtcan never compare to your hurt of being misunderstood by your children. 


 So long since I heard them call me “Me Naib.”

Despite their conservativeness

I’ll cross any culture borderline through sun and rain

Just to have them hold me and call me “Me Naib” again.


 My spirit calls out to my parents

Let the tides of our bloodline

Connect us again.

Guide that inspired this poem: 


Imani Sophia

Such a sweet poem for your amazing parents. beautiful...

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