Marin Poetry Center

Do Not Pass Go

By Naomi Ko

Start off strong, roll the dice. Move forward seven spaces.
Congratulations! You’ve just purchased this property for $900!

Crisp polo shirt, curled eyelashes, raise your hand in class.
You feel American until you sit behind
Blonde hair, eyes like the ocean, lifted black lashes.
Run to the bathroom and look in the mirror.
Your lashes are stick straight now.
Roll the dice again. Draw a card. Jail!
Go back to class. Collect yourself.
Do not pass go and do not collect $200.
Slide your hand down from its unconscious place in the air
The less questions answered, the less questions asked.
Keep your token where it is.

Exciting news! The Your Heritage Property is on sale for $700!
Dim sum steam builds a house in your home, hong bao fluttering around
the room.
Aunties bicker over pungent fish in cramped Asian supermarkets,
Their words packed as tight as the sacks of rice in the corner.
Lunar New Year, Popo asks you a question in Chinese and your tongue
grows numb.
Exposed to so much culture, betrayed by your own words
The characters jangle from your lips, heavy as rocks.
You are $100 short to make this purchase. Would you like to take out a loan?
You wish you hadn’t begged to quit Chinese lessons when you were eight.
The red bean paste is grainy when you pop a crescent of mooncake into
your mouth,
Sandy and earthy and as thick as your grandmother’s accent.
You quietly spit the bite into a snow-white napkin and bury it in the trash
Underneath crab shell husks and picked-clean chicken bones.
No need to buy the property. Not enough people will land on it.

Yellow on the outside, white on the inside
American until I’m asked to open my eyes wider for photos
Chinese until I need to open my mouth.
I stand at the intersection of both cultures,
Waiting to be let into either:
Each culture thinks the other has already claimed me.
You’ve made it back to the Start. Ready to roll again?

Third Place: Naomi Ko
Saint Ignatius College Preparatory

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