America mourns for the Indian
figure who knelt like a supplicant before dairy,
fatly blessed our milks, our cheeses,
anointed our lands & shores.
The Google tutorials surface—
the “boob trick:” score the box & fold to make
a window for her knees to jut through.
O our butter maiden
brought all the boys to the yard.
Twittersphere so prostrate with grief
petitions are launched for the Dairy Princess:
O our pat O Americana,
O our dab O Disneyesque,
O our dollop O Heritage.
The mourning procession bears witness:
Jolly Green Giant & Chicken of the Sea Mermaid,
Uncle Ben & Aunt Jemimah,
magically delicious leprechaun & Peter Pan—
even the Argo Cornstarch Maiden & Mazola
Margarine “you call it corn, we call it maize”
spokesIndian raise stalks in solidarity.
Mia, aptly named, our butter girl mascot,
the only Indian woman gone missing
that anyone notices, anyone cares about.
Copyright © 2020 by Tiffany Midge. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 24, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
A crate of peaches straight from the farm
has to be maintained, or eaten in days.
Obvious, but in my family, they went so fast,
I never saw the mess that punishes delay.
I thought everyone bought fruit by the crate,
stored it in the coolest part of the house,
then devoured it before any could rot.
I’m from the Peach State, and to those
who ask But where are you from originally,
I’d like to reply The homeland of the peach,
but I’m too nice, and they might not look it up.
In truth, the reason we bought so much
did have to do with being Chinese—at least
Chinese in that part of America, both strangers
and natives on a lonely, beautiful street
where food came in stackable containers
and fussy bags, unless you bothered to drive
to the source, where the same money landed
a bushel of fruit, a twenty-pound sack of rice.
You had to drive anyway, each house surrounded
by land enough to grow your own, if lawns
hadn’t been required. At home I loved to stare
into the extra freezer, reviewing mountains
of foil-wrapped meats, cakes, juice concentrate,
mysterious packets brought by house guests
from New York Chinatown, to be transformed
by heat, force, and my mother’s patient effort,
enough to keep us fed through flood or storm,
provided the power stayed on, or fire and ice
could be procured, which would be labor-intensive,
but so was everything else my parents did.
Their lives were labor, they kept this from the kids,
who grew up to confuse work with pleasure,
to become typical immigrants’ children,
taller than their parents and unaware of hunger
except when asked the odd, perplexing question.
Copyright © 2015 by Adrienne Su. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 23, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
The world’s largest Confederate monument
was too big to perceive on my earliest trips to the park.
Unlike my parents, I was not an immigrant
but learned, in speech and writing, to represent.
Picnicking at the foot and sometimes peak
of the world’s largest Confederate monument,
we raised our Cokes to the first Georgian president.
His daughter was nine like me, but Jimmy Carter,
unlike my father, was not an immigrant.
Teachers and tour guides stressed the achievement
of turning three vertical granite acres into art.
Since no one called it a Confederate monument,
it remained invisible, like outdated wallpaper meant
long ago to be stripped. Nothing at Stone Mountain Park
echoed my ancestry, but it’s normal for immigrants
not to see themselves in landmarks. On summer nights,
fireworks and laser shows obscured, with sparks,
the world’s largest Confederate monument.
Our story began when my parents arrived as immigrants.
Copyright © 2019 by Adrienne Su. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.