A Golden Race

Bridget Childs, 11th Grade

I see my mother, often.
Often times, as a young Filipino girl,
Hanging like a ribbon off her mother’s skirt asking,
“May I go?”
To Disneyland
Repeatedly for years,
And one day tumbling off
To California,
To Disneyland for years.
And finding herself on a foreign ride
With no seatbelt,
Only miles of simmering sidewalk,
And no cotton candy,
Only the cheapest canned food,
And only finding lines,
Lines on paper,
Lines of other people’s names
Waiting on paper,
And only 50 cents at the entrance.
Enough to buy
Enough pressure to form a diamond,
To get a diploma in a language she hardly knew,
And to see college on the sunrise,
And fearlessly ask again,
“May I go?”

“You don’t look…”
“Very Filipino”
“Very Jewish”
“Very American”
With no sensible linguistic skills,
no six-point stars,
And no golden highlights,
A hair salon nestled in the palengke,
A Jewish synagogue crowning a mountain,
A public school cafeteria,
Perplexed hair stylists,
Privileged children,
Uneducated students,
And attempted justifications
On why I don’t look very anything,
While feeling like I am very nothing,
Except lost,
With a language skewed from translation,
And skin that won’t fit a mold,
And enough motivation
To drive me to find a way home.
“May I go?”

I’d been running a race,
Carrying my mother on my back,
Hoping to make history proud.
But sometimes it felt like losing,
Losing heritage,
Wilting in the wrong soil,
And existing

In the wrong lane.

So my yellow skin
Seemed a little less golden,
And my slanted eyes
Felt a little more crooked,
And it felt as though
Someone else should take my place.
Because America is the land
To land opportunities,
And at times, it only felt like I was mining

In the wrong places,

To find a better,
More golden
Version of myself
To give to my mother.
To let her know that at least her journey was worth it.
Because I, an attempted golden medal
Existing in a not quite tangible niche,
Couldn’t quite make the past proud,
Failing, falling
Off the track of the human race.
The lines were just a little too blurred
For me to continue my arbitrary value system.
So I stopped running in circles,
Competing with ghosts
And finally asked:
“May I go?”

My mother taught me that
Gold means nothing to a diamond
Since success is a measure of strength, not achievement.
And I saw her,
A little more than I had before,
Within myself.