Días por A by Jacqueline Jiang Chieu

I sometimes feel like I am drowning

In a sea of sounds so guttural and loud at times that I find myself silently staring at mouths as if they 


Jacqueline Jiang is an educator and a Master's student at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. She also works as a poet mentor in high schools throughout the island and offers creative writing workshops to middle school students. Her academic and creative work are both written with the goal of educating the outsiders about the current (and past) socio-political situation in Puerto Rico. She believes that her path is to make sure that no one goes without understanding and having awareness of is happening in her island and focuses on anti-colonial literature in her academia, while also writing her own.  

spewed fire.


I hear the people that look like me

Make noises like chanting

And I can only question my validity

As one of them.


Outside of those red-colored doors,

I am a mountain.

I have grown like all of the bamboo that was brought here,

Strong, flourished, fearlessly taking over land, building bridges.


The people that look like me say

That the ones made of bamboo are bad.

That they lack culture,

water seeps through its hard shell and leaves it.


But I don't see how the beautiful green shades

That look like pictures if you drive quickly enough through el campo

Could be anything other than what they are.


I can feel myself shrinking when they talk to me in this language I cannot understand.

I think to myself, these Puerto Ricans from New York that come here are always so proud of their home.

But I have yet to master the technique or mentality to say that I am proud of my father's birthplace,

Or the region my mother's parents tried so desperately to escape.


Some days, I run into those who look like me.

I smile in hopes that they won't ask me questions that I won't be able to reply to without sighing, 

shrugging, saying I do not understand.


I wonder if this is ever how it must have felt for Bernardo Vega or Jesús Colón to watch mouths sputter 

letters in a language not their own.


They learned.


I make myself a secret promise that I will teach myself the ways,

But my ways have been taught.

My culture created and formed,

My beliefs anchored to my person.


Sometimes, this is what the diáspora feels like.

Sometimes, the secret promises are all we have to work with.


I leave the restaurant with the red-colored doors.

I say "Gracias" to the woman who looks like me.

 She nods at me, walks away to attend her next table.


Sometimes, I wonder if she even cares about my inability to speak to her in a language that was never 



I sit in the driver's seat of my car.

Turn on the radio.

Fania All-Stars "Isla del Encanto" begins to play.

I drive out into this imaginary sunset.

Rhythm in my ears,

Even if my dragon for the Lunar New Year can't dance.

The Acentos Review 2019