I don’t want to be here
but mama told me school comes first.
I rock to and fro
my Disney princess slippers flashing
pink, yellow, pink, yellow.
The bell rings
but I hesitate.
The rest of the second grade class runs up the stairs
as I hide behind the bushes.
Johnny, Bill, Kate, Jane, Sam,
they were my friends…
We used to play tag
and whisper silly second grade secrets under the banyan trees
sharing cinnamon sugar cookies with a smile.
The final bell echoed the halls
just as I stepped through the door.
All eyes on me.
Even Mrs. Gallagher’s gaze grazed mine
behind her horn-rimmed glasses.
Stiff silence steamed my face red,
roasting my confidence to a crisp.
A blackboard eraser whittles through the air
and smacks me square on the forehead.
Chalkdust rains down my face.
“Dirty Jap! ” Bill shouts,
and my friends sneer proudly.
He receives claps of praise from the class.
I don’t speak Japanese.
I’ve never even been to Japan.