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First Generation by Karolina Gajdeczka


You don’t want to play with American girls;
They eat white bread.
Don’t even play with their expensive dolls,
Keep their noses pressed to TV screens.
(No nutrients.)
Read a book
Or learn to cook instead.
(You aren’t lonely.)
You have family.

But you persist and eventually
Start bringing normal-enough lunches
For cafeteria trade-offs.
And someone likes your new jeans enough
To invite you over after school.

But then she thinks it’s strange
That you’ve never eaten Easy Mac
And don’t know what Cartoon Network is.
“You’re weird,”
She tells you and her mother
Says, “That’s rude,”
And you make mental
Lists of what is cool
(And isn’t.)

Mom and Dad ask you how playtime went,
But they don’t listen because
Every other word you say is English and
You’re not allowed to forget
The language that they taught you.

You learn two different
Codes of how to behave
(To be accepted.)
And stop inviting friends home
(To avoid confusion.)
Soon you are becoming
Two instead of one:
Separating instead of blending;
Disjoined cultures.


 
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