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by VIVIAN ZHI (Canada)

Issue 2.3    December 2020

bicycle in Chinatown

Audio: Vivian Zhi reads

I am from the streets of Chinatown, 

Where in a small apartment south of Dundas and west of Spadina,

A Chinese couple is raising their newborn son. 

No, I am not their son. 

I am their daughter, who will be born three years after him

And raised in a bigger house in the suburbs of Toronto. 

Still, I like to imagine that as my place of origin.

Don’t get me wrong, I love where I live.

I walk around seeing faces like mine,

Where we are united by the excessive amounts of bubble tea that runs in our bloodstream

And the bitter herbal soups our parents force us to drink. 

But if I visit Chinatown and look hard enough, 

I can see the traces of our history left behind.

The paved streets where my parents pounded, looking for work.

The lake, which connects to the river, which connects to the ocean

They sailed across with nothing but a dream in their pockets. 

I see the place where the Chinese built a life for themselves,

Where racism and the head tax was not enough to make them 

Head on home. It’s the place where

The dragons dance to usher in the new year

And we paint the town red and gold.

And this, this is my home.

Vivian Zhi, age 16, is a high school student living in Markham, Ontario, Canada. When she's not procrastinating on writing, you can find her crafting short stories and working on her YA fantasy novel-to-be. She loves tea, cats, and musicals, but not the musical Cats.

#identity          #family          #community          #global citizenship

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