Home 9 Issue 9 Outside and In by Sabrina Youn

Sabrina Youn, age 19 (alum)

This poem was written in honor of AAPI Heritage Month.

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Outside and In

I was flown to these lands of stars
On cardboard picture books and planes
Omma stuffed me with our food, their English
said, you are an American now

So fluttered away my Spanish and Korean
Stitched lips unraveled
Roots snipped and pruned

My memories are tied to this flag
Red, white and blue
But my body, my body speaks of another tale
Red, white and blue

Speaks of galbi and bibimbap, of kimchi and tea
Wails of stereotypes tied to sorrow, shame and grief
Shouts of laughter and change, of candlelight and red
So much red, so much white, but we painted on blue

So fluttered away my Omma, a tiger strangled down
Said, you are an American now, don’t fly to see me out
You won’t be let back in,

blocked by this great wall
of technicalities that mean nothing to my soul,

my soul splattered on by asados and chimichurri, by empanadas and pico dulces too, by a trilingual heritage I never received, by the realization that I don’t look Korean, I look Asian, and I look like my estranged brother and oppressor too
and maybe

just maybe

someone worth hearing out

Outside and in, I am an Asian American
wouldn’t change it for the world

Inside and out, I will be whatever I like