Camphor Trees -- poetry by Barrett Ahn
Flecks of melanin speckle her skin
She hates them
She hates how if they took a pen and
linked them like a connect-a-dot they could draw
a lopsided diamond, a star, an X.
She smiled, her face creased
Their cheeks crinkled as they laughed
Pulling their eyelids apart into slits
She stopped smiling.
She does not want the color in her skin
She was golden until they told her she was not
She wanted triangles for lunch
right angles against white provolone
She got red orange savory fire
It smelled. It was thrown out.
She does not speak the language of her mother
of her father, of her great-great grandma
a broken branch on the family camphor tree
Foreign vowels caught in windpipe
wobbling on tongue, stuck between teeth
Sinking back into lungs
But camphor leaves fell in the springs to come
Flowers grew in the cracks in the pavement
She wishes she could take the silences back
learns to say thank you
For she is golden once more
and camphor trees bloom in the places she hid
and she traces the marks on her face and she smiles
and she no longer wants to begin again.
Barrett Ahn is a senior at Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles. She has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, TeenInk, the Decameron Project, and more. She completed her debut novel, Of Swords and Seasons, now available on Amazon Kindle. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading or eating her favorite Korean dish, sundubu.