To My Daycare Teacher

not another word from you
could make me feel
apt for another chance

at redemption, to prove myself worthy
of the paper before me;
how do I position my hands for

a holiday that thanks your privilege—
when you asked me how
I wanted this fat stupid bird,

& I said rainbow
& you said no

five-year-old marisa marveled
at how you missed it
the fabulous menagerie of hues

exploding chromatic clapping prismatic across the sky, fireworks tearing
through white-washed cornfields of sameness,
scribbled hand turkeys morphing into beastly brights—

dear teacher, little did you know that the shy
chinese girl scrunched in shame before you
augured a world

in which her imagination in due time
would conceive of gorgeous lingual melodies
transmogrifying creatures with power

to roar mountains into being,
granite colossi combustive quartz
blooming kaleidoscopes

across the landscape—too bad
they would blind your glaucomic orbs,
squinting spheres which mistook other for wrong

all she was asking of you, dear teacher,
was to permit herself to unfurl
her wings damp with life’s tender newness,

a baby’s scalp of yawning sinews moaning
past bones in ecstatic friction, fanning
into a rainbow the colored headdress

of the bird you love so much—

yet the clipping of feathers

made no sound,

sawed the nucleus of her voice



the skeleton

from which





in other words:

the reason why I have waited
two decades for my memories to divulge
a reality other than your monopoly

on meaning, your claim on
arrangements of fake avian cartoons,
emblems of apparent interethnic harmony

to this day your impertinence was prophecy
of my ascension, a world
that would gorge itself on the crisped

foothills of northern california, palms nodding
to the pilgrimage that reared a child whose forehead
sleeps smooth from the bowing down

dear teacher: one day you may discover that homage
is a different beast than what you’ve always fed
because on this thanksgiving day twenty-two years ago

my mother nursed an infant at her breast gave grace
to another god for a daughter whose fullest feathered self
would sail treacherous into the maw of your white beginnings

now sick of saving face,
dear teacher, all I mean, is that

today I live
& that turkey
is me.

Marisa Lin

Marisa Lin (she/her) was born in Fujian, China and grew up in Rochester, Minnesota. She is an alumna of the Community of Writers, VONA, and Kenyon Review workshops, with work published or forthcoming in Lucky Jefferson, Porter House Review, Poetry South, and Cottonwood Magazine. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

East River, After a Long Absence
The Future of the Sun