"圆" by Yuan Xiu

Note from the poet:

The Chinese always believed that the way you behave is a reflection of your “家教”; your upbringing. With this poem, I wanted to explore the struggles of an Asian woman bound to her traditional roots as she grapples with herself and the expectations of her family. Through delving into the intimate relationship between mother and daughter, I hope to bring together the seemingly polar opposites into one, complete entity.

my mother named me, 圆 a full moon, a complete circle without edges, no breaks or imperfections. she named me after the earth, the sun hanging high, revolving around her, an infinite circle, perfect, she hoped i would grow to be soft, mellow, agreeable, with no temper, patient, she tried to mould me to be smooth, flawless like the porcelain bowl we ate from, indeed, with tablespoons of imperfection, she lesrnt that I was sharp corners of a broken plate that cut the insides of her cheeks, hard and inflexible and in the bleeding cracks, she found me unbending, brittle, disappointed, she brought me to fortune tellers on Bugis Street to get me another name, add three ellipsis, water droplets to douse my fiery nature, she turned to me and said ‘it’s for your own good, you need to change, learn to be gentle, moderate, pliable, one day you’ll understand’ and so I ate my retorts, swallowed my frustrations with helpings of rice and resignation, when I finally grew round, she smiled, pleased that I was finally living up to my name

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