Home 9 Issue 9 Brighter Eyes by Abigail Han

Abigail Han, age 14

I wrote this poem during the WriteGirl Poetry workshop. I haven’t written a lot of poetry, so this was very new to me. The topic is also very personal since I’ve been self-conscious about my “small Asian eyes” since I was little, and still am now. In the sixth grade, I prayed every day that my eyes would magically become bigger. Since then, I’ve grown to love my eyes more (especially with the rise of Asian representation on the big screen), though I still know I have a long way to go.

Brighter Eyes

I used to love the sun
The feel of glowing hands brushing my face, my arms, my polka-dotted dress as I run
The subtle warmth spreading across my body, like a bird taking flight
Wispy white in a sea of sky, everything seemed so right

I used to love my eyes
Small and round, no crease, but still there
20/20 vision though they seemed as dark as my jet-black hair
I used to brag that my eyes were black, before I learned that was impossible
Never used to really pay attention to them, just a vessel

I used to love my nose
Like a button, dainty and delicate
Sitting in the center of my face, nothing elaborate
My friend would say “boop” while tapping the rounded tip
It made me feel special and as soft as an unused Q-tip

I used to love myself
But then I grew up
A middle schooler whose self-image was as cheap as a discount ticket stub
Your eyes are too small
Can you even see?
Your nose is not tall
Can you even breathe?
Your skin is so “tan”
Any darker and you’ll be as burnt as the top of caramelized flan
Snide comments cloaked as jokes
But why am I not laughing?
“Take it easy,” they say, but still continue yapping

I wished every day my eyes would be
And as I did, the light slowly died inside of me
Wishing and wishing
Praying and chasing
Your eyes won’t magically change while you sleep
But I was already in too deep
They tell me to love myself, and I try
A wake-up call after reading “The Bluest Eye”
But try as I must, the yearning never ends
Maybe one day when my self-confidence mends
But until then I’ll be here
Hoping and hoping
Dreaming and screaming
One day your eyes will be brighter