The Place We Call Home by Dora He

The Place We Call Home

What does it mean,


When you look down at yourself

And find your body broken down into parts,

Examined, motives questioned,

Chewed up, torn apart, and left to rot

Since when did my body become yours

To laugh at, to abuse, to shame?


When I live in a world where I fear

That I cannot walk around with him

Without feeling that I am seen as

An exotic object, a little plaything

Serving my purpose to be objectified


Am pushed around, denigrated to a lower position

Because others do not acknowledge my voice

The voice of the “model minority,” they say

A cruel double standard that edges us out

Of true recognition of our modern issues

As an oft-fragmented community we still

Reach out, grasping, searching for our identity.


Twisted and pulled, this way and that

To mold into someone else’s image of us

Seems too jarring, too neat and tidy and too perfect

Maybe you don’t belong in either, but by the by,

In the in betweens, the awkward, weird purgatory

That leaves you at best a pictorial mosaic

Composed of clashing colors, discordant notes,


We all are encompassed in this great body,

Made up of the many: the one who doesn’t

Know how to use chopsticks, or drink tea

The girl who struggles with her foreign accent

The boy with tousled brown hair who doesn’t

Quite know where he fits in, split down the middle

The wrinkled eyes we looked into, as they

Tucked us into bed and told us their stories

Of the exodus, learning our histories

They are all us. We are them.

This is our community.

This is home.


We must defend its right to exist,

Discover the validity that factors into

Our very struggle to be a more cohesive

Unit of one while acknowledging that

Our thousands of dialects and skin colors

Can’t simply be depicted in a tiny box of

Crayola Multicultural crayons.


The only way we can begin to even

Touch the tip of the iceberg of our questions

Means we must reflect inward and stop to just

Marvel and think about the truly

Kaleidoscopic, multifaceted, colorful

Place we call ours—home.


I look for power and conviction at home;

It teaches me to speak loudly.


When the letters simply fly off of the page

Bringing my flat words to fiery life

They empower me and lift me up

Because I would speak until

My small voice became merely a croak

To cry out for those who no longer can.


And when we find ourselves overwhelmed

By the sheer power of limitation,

Rejection and hatred, jaded from the

Misunderstanding and cold-eyed stares,

We remove the tape from our mouths

And we do not stay silent.


We write. We sing. We paint.

We tell our story.

by Dora He

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