The following is a poem by Ken Ruan, a Brooklyn-born-&-raised-but-
Distant...Yet Ken Ruan
Distant . . . . Yet disinterested. I finally Google "How do Asian parents show affection?"
Unforthcoming... and unknown. My father is a razorblade in the face of my question, Do you love me?
He switches from English to Chinese . . .
: Don't I do all these things for you because I love you? Aw yieng nee, gung hai oy nei la! Yee gaw aw mm oy nei, been gaw oy nei ah?
Physical touch, emotional harmoniousness, intellectual transcendence. I won't intellectualize.
Brimming sadness in times of inconsolable grief . . . not an embrace at discounted offer
But why get jealous at Disney and Lifetime fathers ?
Whose smiles travel across their face and ensure destination in their children's faces
Why be upset at my father's fleeting laugh, transitory dexterity of his face muscles, and spontaneous warmth?
Why be jaded by his poker face; the wall offers his face a bas relief and I am a carbon copy of his
INSERT THIS: Actually, I automatically kiss my father on his left cheek every time we finish praying, but kiss has become mechanical(.)
When I unveil my emotions I am a renegade. Against my own people --- a wall of faces
I am a renegade by screaming; you know Asian people are supposed to be quiet?
My mom spins me around in a swing until my eyes widen to sunlight, arms grasping for autumn air
Her veil is only half an inch thick and her smile is effervescent. *Tears fall down my face.*
Although age befriends her with distrust and cynicism, her laugh succeeds
When my mom leaves for work, I, nine-year-old-tiny, cling onto her right thigh. My father frees my fingers and I watch my mother, strong forty-nine-year-old-soldier disappear into the high-rise.
*Tears descend my face again*
Kathy holds my hand while ice-skating for the first time. She said she wanted to skate on her own, so she let go of my hand and coaxed me, "I'll come back for you, ok?"
My mother emerges from the high-rise, bearing a promise
Author's Note: I am incredibly distant to my parents nowadays. But it was not always this way. When I was a child, I remember my mother cradling me and taking me to places in Bay Ridge. I vaguely remember my mom and dad taking me to San Francisco, Bay Ridge, Macy's, Toys'R'Us. I hardly remember my father holding me in his arms, as he tells me when I ask him. I do remember my mother's hand. This memory was triggered by my holding hands with my friend while we skated on ice for the first time at Bryant Park. When she let go of my hand, I felt tears flood my eyes. Hours later, I realized that I thought of my mother letting go of my hand right before she leaves for work. I could remember distinctly this instant of sadness, of abandonment. I wrote this poem because it allowed me to remember when I was close to my parents. Our intimacies were apparent when I was a child, but now it has morphed into a hard-love instead of affectionate shower of kisses and cradling.