When I was 6, I was told to wear my scariest costume for Halloween day at school
And for once, my parents wanted to spoil me,
So while everyone at school became witches or skeletons or furries
I became a ninja
My sais and eyes were sharpened and my strut was just right
I knew I had to play the part like Scarlett Johansson
Not only because my outfit cost $40, but because all my classmates thought I knew kung fu
Because I told them that I knew kung fu
I knew I was lying, but they made it so easy I began believing it
At recess I jumped off the monkey bars with a hiyah and the crowd went wild
As I pivoted with my tiny ninja feet,
All their eyes were on me as I sliced the air with my katanas
Their snickers were blurred with each pivot of my wrist
They created me, and I relished in it
They painted a masterpiece, and I signed my name in the frame
And I hung it in my ribcage, driving nails into my vertebrae
Not knowing that I was only a museum
Not knowing that I was just an exhibit that people can leave whenever they feel like it
They saw slanted circus act; they saw yellow acrobat
A whirlwind of feets, hands, and wires titled “For your entertainment”
Titled “don’t get too close or you’re going to see the chipping on the paint”
Titled “please stay, even if I don’t know who I’m supposed to be”
How can I not fall in love with my caricature when that’s the only thing I see in the mirror?
Going into high school, I thought I would be different
I waxed my eyes with the moon bleached my smile with the sun
I would be opulent, pure, a painted pacifist
Yet my mother tongue was still trapped in my throat
When I was 5, we were told to dress up as our favorite Halloween character.
So I thought why not be the best thing I could be?
I dug through the bargain bin, an endless pit of skeletons and tiaras.
And found exactly who I wanted to be.
When I got to school, I put on my mask before greeting my teacher
The first thing she asked me was: “Who are you supposed to be?”
I didn’t know it yet, but I had already lost myself