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an american girl breaks my heart, or microagressions

By Emma Truong

after K-Ming Chang

it is becoming incredibly hard to name my sadness these days.

sad books by people i could understand and could trust to feel things for me suggest life as a small, insignificant enduring before a final recluse, which is where we want to go eventually if we are a good person. so much of life, still, feels like enduring is not needed after all.

things–small–like: these woods; swedish children's stories; a horror film that isn't that scary because no-one in it looks like me and i am not yet fluent in sympathy. or: malabrigo yarn; other people's pets; sleeping naked in my own bed when it is sunny; the color of wood; silver ragwort. i remember the way i look and slowly these things feel like they are embarrassed to be held by me.

love begins where i no longer see myself. it is not in my heart or in my gut but in my throat where words depart and become no longer a part of my body.

it stops the foreign language from coming out when i am anxious.

it cruelly reminds me of who i am.

in search of a name for my sadness, i remember that i am terrified and torn apart everytime by the smell of bitterness: it is the one thing in other people that makes me want to die and become loveless.

yet, i look in the mirror and in the empty space between my eyebrows where i think love should have been, bitterness lies splattered like blood on a crime scene.

i learned in an english lecture that names try to be meaningless and small so that their persons can never cause disappointment to their signifier.

i disappoint the english name i gave myself because unlike other perfect Emma’s, i am tired most of the time and want to go home where no-one can see me with my shadow, a pathetic familiar lacking a name and brimming with expectations.

yet, at home, when i lie down, i dream of the kind white girl i am beginning to miss, and she is holding everything i don't need to endure.

in my dreams, i swoon at her cat and take care not to hold it unless it insists and gnaws my arm bloody.

when my cat died, i could not touch other animals for a long time: i feared that my toxic touch or the fluent air escaping my throat had been the murderer in its autopsy.

back in my dreams, the kind girl’s beautiful american husband that she doesn’t have nervously avoids eye contact with me when she leaves the room, and again when i ask about his day.

i wake up from my dream and scramble for my blanket because it snows outside in Chicago and my naked sadness chills me to my bones.


Emma Truong is a student at Northwestern University. She likes to think, read, and write about queer literature, speculative fiction, beautiful words, and the messy, gory creatures that inhabit them. She lives in Evanston, Illinois with her dog Linton.


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