Wǒ de nǚ'ér (My Daughter)
By Meghan Zhang
Posted on August 1, 2023
Cover Image Title: The Daughter
Cover Image by Meghan Z.
Specifications: 3796 x 3314 pixels, 300 dpi
And although she had many friends,
She did not have a one-of-a-kind.
Nobody to tell her secrets to,
And no one to feel her sorrows.
So when she came to the kitchen
With sorrow streaming down her face,
She only had her Bà sitting next to her
As she wept,
His silver-speckled brows
Furrowed with concern,
Because he didn’t know
How to hold her.
Wǒ de bàba,
I know my sadness confuses you.
I came back from the frigid night,
To sit on our old play structure
Who had grown old with lichen and moss,
So I could listen to melancholic melodies
And mask my pain from your concern
But you still came to usher me in,
And you told me it was too cold out.
And you asked me,
“Mèimei! Why are you crying?”
To which I began to cry harder.
I know you did not know the reason for my tears,
Because you kept asking me
Every time the clock changed by one,
But I could not give you an answer.
Instead I told you a story of my pain
A hiccupping attempt to lead you through it,
Marred by the naïve agitation
That laid heavy on your sunken wrinkles.
Your face began to fall in resignation
As you knew this day would come,
Where you and I had to dig deep
Into our jiā’s turbulence,
But we did not get lost in it all
You held onto me.
And I onto you.
We let go at the end
Connection is not our strong suit,
But my hands feel a gentle warmth now
Where you held me in an attempt of solicitude.
Wǒ de bàba,
I understand you.
Wǒ de nǚ'ér,
I know you do not like to tell us things.
You came back from a friend’s house,
Your lips hung up on a heavy silence
“I just want to be outside for a little while,”
And brushed past me
Dropping only your backpack behind,
Leaving wet shoeprints that your mother would’ve frowned at.
It was too cold out for you
So I kept a close eye,
Your phone lit up your face
And I could see you were swirling in the things
That you never tell us about.
I went outside to get you,
Forgetting to put on my coat
And I did not know what to do
When I saw the tears on your face.
I am an engineer
So I tried to get to the root of your problems
And solve for the missing answer,
Errors led to errors
My equation fell apart,
But you did not fret,
You gave me your lines of code
Though I do not know this language.
You sobbed as you told me everything,
And at that moment you reminded me
Of your gēge,
Who too also went through things
That he did not like to tell us about.
As you told me your story,
I tried to tell you mine
I know it hurts you
When your māma and I fight,
When I can’t find the courage to say
I love you,
And I know we spent too many nights
Leaving our daughter alone in her room.
I tried my best to be good
Because I know our parents weren’t, but
I still hurt you.
You asked to see and talk to somebody
Of which I didn’t understand,
But I said yes
I want to help you.
That was that,
You skipped the steps
On the stairs like you always do
Up and into your room,
And I knew it was over. I know you will never speak
Of this moment to me again,
But I hope it prevails in your heart.
Wǒ de nǚ'ér,
I see you.
This poem depicts the challenging and confusing relationship between a Chinese dad and his daughter. As the daughter struggles with mental illness, she finds no one she can go to. The dad catches her in a moment of vulnerability and struggles to connect to her from an emotional standpoint. It is clear that they care deeply for one another, yet neither one really knows how to communicate this. We see how each character navigates through this emotionally charged moment and how each of their stories affects the way they communicate. Despite the two stark methods of thinking, the dad and his daughter arrive at the same destination in the end: a place of understanding.
Wǒ de nǚ'ér 我的女儿, meaning my daughter
Wǒ de bàba 我的爸爸, meaning my dad
jiā 家, meaning a family or house
māma 妈妈, meaning mom
gēge 哥哥, meaning an older brother
Mèimei 妹妹, meaning a younger sister or cute little girl
[ * The End * ]
[Writing Editor: J.Y.]