a person looking out of an airplane window

We Live in Liminality



I first learned to swim

On the black sand beaches in Auckland.

Now I swim

In an ocean of black hair at Beijing airport.

I won’t drown,

Because I bleached my hair blonde.




I have one citizenship

Celebrate New Years twice

Kowtow three times

Avoid the number four

Left China at the age of five

Am connected to the world by six degrees of separation.




“Foreigner” is not a dialect

Recognisable on a map of China.

“Chinese” is not a face

Recognisable on a map of New Zealand.

“No where” is not a home

Recognisable on a map of the world.




At home we speak English, Mandarin, and everything in between.

Two way miscommunications

Peppered with broken accents and Chinglish.

My parents do not understand me,

No matter what I say.




Steak with chopsticks.

Dumplings with a fork.

Fried rice and cheese.

Wontons and ketchup.

Stir fry spaghetti.

Soy sauce roast chicken.


My belly is a melting pot,

A smorgasbord of fusion food,

Without a price tag,

Without a place on a menu.




Shakespeare said,

“All the world’s a stage.”

And we learn as children

To rehearse a script to the question:

“Where do you come from?”

Until it becomes muscle memory.

Performing, reinventing our identities

With chameleonic range;

Until our audience is satisfied.




My life is a patchwork of stamps

Sewn into my passport.

Read its pages, not my face;

It remembers my journey

Clearer than my faulty memory.




Our lives are made of fractured hellos and goodbyes,

Strung together in a messy montage.

And tears at the departure gate

Are a bittersweet ritual,

That never gets any easier.




I deliberately choose

To wander aimlessly,

While there is still so much world

Left to see.