I lost my talk when you asked me how I liked this country.
How long it had been since I had moved to Canada, even though I was born here.
I lost my talk when you had to point out that I was the only Asian student in class,
even when I explained I was from here but adopted by parents from Spain and Portugal.
I lost my talk when you tried to categorise me like an insect in a shadow box.
I lost my talk when you pulled your eyes into slits and said, ching chong chow.
I lost my talk when you said it was a shame that I wasn’t teaching my daughter my native language, when I told you we spoke English at home.
I lost my talk when I came into the store to buy cookies
and you told me to get out because no one had ordered any Chinese food.
I lost my talk when I was in kindergarten and you told my mother
that she wasn’t my real mother because I didn’t look like her.
I found my talk when my mother asked you to touch her arm,
and when you did, she said, Now do I feel real to you?
Beneath the Ice, oil on canvas, 130 x 162 cm