Scoundrel Time


Unlike me, she made a choice, chose
Indian over Chinese, because she felt
she looked more Indian than Chinese.

It “takes strength” to choose. At age five,
while playing near her feet, my grandmother
knitted sweaters for me because she was

always convinced I was cold. You smile
too much. You are too pretty for a boy, too pretty.
You will bring yourself trouble. I smiled

and laughed the way only small children do
when teased. Pretty boy with an English heart,
cold cold heart that needs warming.

I giggled at the sound of the words
“English heart.” Why was she
always worrying about me? She

already knew what it meant to be
a mongrel. Cold heart. Mean heart. Icy fist
planted against the coldest of marble,

marble from a place white with snow,
an island unlike anything in the Indian Ocean.
What an anomaly: an English heart

in a brown body. When she visits me now
in dreams, she is still knitting me a sweater
and teasing me about my smile, my all-too-easy

charm, my cold cold heart. But Daadee is wrong,
you see. My heart crackles. It hisses and flickers
in the dark cathedral of my chest.





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