Welcome, with Hand Gestures

 
In 1957 Bronson Avenue
stepped out to greet her.

 
Bunched at the curb near 
the corner — a tangle of scrawny 
limbs, missing front teeth, 
sunburnt hair.
 
Looking back, she wonders if they 
had rehearsed. Or was it spontaneous 
humiliation?
 
Did the parents know?
 
Ignore them, her mom advised 
after. Only sticks and stones 
can break bones. Words won’t 
really hurt you.
 
In unison they’d chanted 
with gusto and snickers, with mean 
pointy fingers pulling back 
at their faces slant eyes.
 
Ching Chong Chinaman Ching 
Chong Chinaman Ching Chong 
Chinaman
 
Those were the days unfiltered –
hissy, jagged, rude. Skulking 
in the shadows, they now
snarl back around. So she walks,
 
she keeps walking like always, 
eyes steadied forward and clear 
slanted and smartened at every street corner, 
the way whispers how to best go:
 
Flow kindness to all outcast Others.
 
Stand with souls to keep their 
bones whole.
 
Raise fist as required.
 
Welcome the stranger at the end
of the block with words that heal,
not bleed.
 

 
(c) Deborah Jang. All rights reserved. 
Shantih Journal, Summer 2018  Issue 3.1