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Twice the foreigner

by Silberfee


On the day I was born

My parents dressed me in my disguise,

Which I wore diligently daily,

Brightly illuminating hope

In my kin’s eyes.

The老太太 [i] widened eyes,

Observes me as kin; excitement,

Short and tight, clings onto their voices,

告诉我, 怎样才能到达

我的记忆深处. [ii]

My legs carried me away

While my mind sat and prayed,

That my disguise told them another story

Of their voice losing its way

Through the storm of the crowd.


Beneath my epidermis lay

A heritage of migratory passages,

That led into an arterial colony

I am a child of children from

The Star and Key of the Indian Ocean.

But what is it worth? I wonder,

In the heat of the cold Mauritian sun,

With the gentle un familyier babble

I, my brother and my sister are rolled

Into one long wallpaper,

To be glanced at then ignored.

My disguise is the only heirloom I own,

The DNA of my parents’ memory,

Is the only testimony I remember,

Instead I am diluted and lost,

Deep in the history of choices made.

I would travel to

The land of my ancestors,

Where my wordless brain freezes:

Je chasserais les os de mots

Dans le cimetière de mon cerveau.[iii]

Leaving me an orphan,

In the blaze of mutual fidelity.

[I] Old woman.

[II] Tell me the way back to the far end of my memories.

[II1] I would chase the bones of words

In the graveyard of my brain.


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Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:18 pm
Rosendorn wrote a review...



Hello. Here as requested.

I like the principle of this, but I feel like the poem has too big a hole around what "a disguise" is. With my point of reference, I thought this was going to touch on trans issues (disguise of your assigned gender at birth), but it seems to be a cultural thing? That isn't really explained, at all, so I'm left grasping at what this poem is supposed to be getting at.

There are some genuinely beautiful moments, like the wallpaper metaphor, but for me the lack of understanding of the basic concept robs those moments of their poignancy. I did enjoy how you put different languages in here as a representation of all the identities worn and woven into the narrator.

The format is a bit hit and miss for me. I can't quite make up my mind if I feel this is a good flow for the poem itself, or if the lines are too short, ideas too choppy, and capitalization too Poetic (as in, the stuff taught in schools because "that's what poetry is", instead of put in there purposely) for me to really get into it. I'd take a look at punctuation and capitalization in poetry and try to mess around with that. Make sure everything's purposeful, because right now it feels a little formulaic.

But really, the crux of my review is how I don't know what this disguise is. I feel like if I had a different frame of reference I could grasp this poem and really resonate with it, but I tend to be of the opinion that poetry should have enough information built within it to be understandable by those who don't have the exact frame of reference of the narrator. Plus, the specifics of what the disguise is would lend richness to the rest of the poem, because instead of talking about a vague thing that's part of the narrator since birth, there could be discussion on specific aspects.

All that said, maybe this poem just isn't for me. Some pieces are not meant to be universally consumed. I'd still consider messing around with capitalization, punctuation, and line/stanza length, though. Just to flex muscles and see how the poem changes when those elements change.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

~Rosey




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Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:41 am
Hannah wrote a review...



First of all, hi! I don't think I've seen you around before, so it's nice to meet you.

Second of all, this title and your explanation beneath the work really intrigued me. I am currently living as an expat, and although my struggles are not part of my family situation, I expect a familiar theme of isolation and a new way to view my situation while learning more about yours. So let's dive in!

Here's my favorite moment:

I, my brother and my sister are rolled

Into one long wallpaper,

To be glanced at then ignored.


I think this very elegantly describes the emotion without necessarily stating it straight out. The imagery is very strong as well -- I can imagine you standing side-by-side, then having your bodies slowly flattened and bent and pasted to the wall. It's an interesting, unique image, so the fact that it also communicates the emotion means it's working extra hard and is essential to this poem!

Now, I have two suggestions for the rest of the poem. First of all, take a sharp eye to it (or ask a friend to, OR reply here and ask me to!) and make sure that it's all in the correct tense. For example, you write:

While my mind sat and prayed,

That my disguise tells them another story


which shows past tense SAT in the first line and present tense TELLS in the second line. This makes the poem feel disjointed and distracts me from enjoying it.

Secondly, there are a few phrases that I can't seem to get any meaning from that you might want to take another look at and see if they can't be expressed more clearly.

For example, you write

Palely illuminating hope


and I'm sure there was something you meant to communicate, so you chose palely, but as I am reading it, I don't know what it means to "palely illuminate".

Anyway, one other compliment I want to pay you is about your fearlessness with regards to word choice -- you have incorporated strong words like arterial, epidermis, migratory. These are bold and strong.

Please feel free to reply here or PM me if you have any questions or comments about my review.

Thanks for sharing,

Hannah




Silberfee says...


Thank you for the review! yes I joined last month I wish I knew about this site earlier, I feel kinda old (I'm in my twenties)...

Yes I have stumbled upon your profile you are a good writer and your reviews they are very detailed.

when you say there are a few phrases that are vague could you tell me what phrases they are?

I have based this poem on my personal experience but the problem is when old Chinese ladies say things to me in Chinese I never know what they are saying. If I respond in English or explain in Chinese that I can't speak Chinese they just walk away so I had to make it up but I also wanted it to be revelant to their situation. (I'm saying this because I believe the stuff in Chinese in the poem is vague (tell me the way back to the far end of my memory). If it isn't ignore this.

I suspect 'star and key of the Indian ocean' would be vague to the reader who doesn't know about Mauritius but writing Mauritius alone isn't v poetic and Mauritius is referred to as the Star and key of the Indian ocean I'm ashamed to admit I don't know why but I suspect it has something to do with its colonial history.

I chose 'palely illuminate,' because I wanted to describe desperate hope without actually using those words... if you have any questions about the poem (in order to gleen a better review) feel free to ask me .



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Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:10 am
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ScarlettFire wrote a review...



Hey there, @Silberfee! I'm here to review you poetry as requested. ^^

First off, I'm sorry for taking so long to get around to reviewing this. Real Life caught up with me and dragged me into a cave for a few days, but I'm here now. Let's get started, shall we?

I'd really like to say the idea of inserting lines in different languages is pretty cool! I particularly like the line/s in French about chasing bones. That's a really good line. Don't change it. It's awesome. ^^

My legs carried me and scrammed


"Scrammed" doesn't feel right to me. Is there anything else you could use? It's kinda awkward and doesn't seem to mesh well with what you're trying to say here.

I would travel to:

The land of my ancestor


You don't need the colon (the : ) here. I feel that first line flows into the second just fine without it. ^^ And of course, I like the rest of this stanza. It's really cool. <3

Other than that, I don't have any more advice to give. You've done a really good job with this, and I don't feel like it need more than a tiiiny bit of tweaking before it flows better. Your flow is pretty good, so is your rhythm and your rhyming, well the parts that do rhyme. So yeah, I hope this helps! And remember; keep it up and never stop writing!

~Scarlett.




Silberfee says...


Thank you so much for the review!! I was surprised to discover some members liked it but I was really worried because one can like a written piece but that doesn't make it good. I was mega desperate for feedback because I want to become better as a writer! I'll make the edits you suggested and if you want me to review any of your work in return please message me and I'll get to it as soon as possible :) thanks again



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Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:21 pm
Silberfee says...



Context: I look Chinese (my disguise) but I don't speak Chinese so when I go to the city old Chinese ladies would shout after me in Chinese but I don't respond because I can't speak to them (its embarrassing and I feel guilty hence why I run away).

My parents are from a french speaking colony, I imagine if I could speak French, my parents mothertongue I would feel comfort from not being able to speak Chinese but I don't, I did study French at school but I am not fluent (I would hunt for the bones of words/in the graveyard of my brain ) so me and my siblings would always be left out during family gatherings.





I have writer's block. I can't write. It is the will of the gods. Now, I must alphabetize my spice rack.
— Neil Gaiman