Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Monday, February 24, 2014

Human Race(s)

A Haibun for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Author of Americanah

ice pellets between us …
you wouldn't understand;
it's a black thing

I don't know why these words have been on the edge of my mind, and I still  cannot understand why she gave up her master’s degree to fulfill her heart’s burning desire by singing in a blues band— this is just one of her "black things."

I witnessed Canada geese migrating south for the tenth time, but I cannot forget the image of her sticking out her tongue to taste snowflakes, her eyes dark and bottomless, and most importantly, her cutting remark about my obsession with Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler.

On our last night together, with her eyes glaring, she said, "As a member of the model minority (in her emphatic tone), you just don't understand it. The real tragedy of Emmett Till was not the murder of a black teenager for wolf-whistling at a white woman, but the question lingering in the minds of some black people: why did Emmett Till whistle?"

the force of silence upon me early snowfall

Haiku Canada Review, 8:1, Feb. 2014