I walk across the quadrangle with my arms full of oranges.
Can you see the fire I carry for you?
In your country oranges aren’t orange at all, so how could you
recognize the gifts I have to offer?
I was born right after the Vietnam War ended, conceived
while the Agent Orange barrels were quietly rolled back in.
Your family emigrated that same year, boat people
clinging to orange crates off Hong Kong and Singapore.
Your people planted cam sành in the Mekong Delta and mountains,
where years later my people dusted them with defoliants and dioxins.
We grafted our culture onto your women: the war brides who would
bear fruit in foreign countries, get nail tips from Tippi Hedren.
In the South, my father’s family grew celery and citrus.
In the North, my mother’s family gave oranges at Christmas.
Like ours, your country was reunified after the war, but unlike ours,
your families were fractured and far flung across the world.
Do you laugh at me because I am tall or because I am old?
Yesterday you told the class “laughing time” means sex in Eskimo.
In your country the oranges are lime green, so how would I
know if you were trying to give me something sweet?
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