by Yvanna Vien Tica
Yvanna Vien Tica is a Filipino high schooler who grew up in Manila and in a suburb near Chicago. She has been recognized by The Scholastic Art and Writing Competition, The Kenyon Review, Princeton University's Creative Writing Department, The Poetry Society UK, and The Hippocrates Young Poets Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in EX/POST Magazine, DIALOGIST, Hobart, and Shenandoah, among others. In her spare time, can be found enjoying nature and thanking God for another day.
In the mall, I realize my tongue is diagnosed with identity crisis
possibly permanently, the last straw being someone who asked me what it’s like to be Asian and lumped with the Chinese you look nothing like; let me take this country eager and bored in its twilight hours and make conversation with micro-delusion; in the mall, a stranger listens to me order steak fries and tells me he likes the way I say fries with a harsh ‘r’; you know that joke, how the Filipino is forever uncategorized with their brown skin, soft eyes, Spanish last name; when people ask me about my lineage, I try to let them know I have other languages to worry about; in preschool, the first thing a girl told me was how beautiful my double-lidded eyes are, wide enough for the sunlight to claim; when people ask me where I come from, I say I speak in Taglish best, then prove it by mixing up my semi-Midwestern accent with native-sounding phonemes; in the mall, someone starts speaking in Spanish to me, and all I could say was perdón; let me take this moon and lacquer it with all these words my tongue uses in moments of uncertainty—yes, po, I have to go, hindi ko alam; when I tell a friend how jealous I am that he can speak Tagalog like a Filipino, he asks me how my tongue can handle the constant switch of voices; I found out this way how possible it is to cry in different languages; the moon, hungry in its displacement, but we all ignore it;