The nice ladies at the daycare always asked me why my
right ear was swollen and I didn’t know how to tell them
in English about how sometimes my father worked late
and wouldn’t make it home in time to tell me the stories he
knew I always wanted to hear. When my mother found me
crying into my tear-stained mattress on the floor because
I missed him she would yank me up by my ear and scream in it:
if you miss him so much this will keep you awake and you
can stay here all night by the door until he walks in. After
a while I stopped being able to hear which meant that after
a while I stopped being able to listen to the stories he did
tell me when he finally came back even if I faced him with
my good side. After a while I realized I had no good side.
After a while I started falling asleep before he came home again
and after a while I completely forgot the sound of his voice.
The nice ladies at the daycare always asked me again and again
why my right ear was swollen and because I never answered
they thought I was deaf and because I never had any stories
to tell they thought I was mute and because I never had any
tears left to cry they thought I was empty too.
Amy Gong Liu is a senior in Columbia College majoring in human rights and ethnicity and race studies. She writes poetry and prose about the East Asian diaspora, cultural signs and signification, intergenerational melancholia, oceans, and more. Amy is currently working on a book of lyric prose about the gaps of Mandarin-English translation in intimate spaces. In her free time she plays water polo, reads, and daydreams about capturing the electric. Follow her on social media: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter