Goodnight, Dragon Lady
a poem by Cindy Du
you meet him online, and he gives off no red flags yet
you’re an asian girl scared of being fetishized by a white boy with yellow fever
he seems nice, friendly; you like the same movies, you have mutual friends
you trust him completely, naively
you smile as you accept his request, not thinking too much of it.
he compares you to his favorite characters,
mai from avatar? you think that you look nothing like her
he looks like a character with brown hair and eyes, one who actually acts like him too
but you get into an argument, he’s mad that you compared him to a cartoon character
isn’t that what you did when you said i was like mai? you say sorry anyways
he does not.
he tells you that something about you just reminds him of her
is it the black roots of your hair peeking out under the dye? no, it must be the personality, no
it’s just because you’re asian isn’t it?
he says it’s not, it’s definitely something else, something he can’t name, and you believe him
you let yourself find comfort in being wanted.
you are so beautiful, he says
why do you dye and curl your black hair? you would be so much prettier with your natural look
start dressing more alternative,
no, not that style where you wear big pants and polos and turtlenecks.
why don’t you wear those schoolgirl skirts and show your skin a little more?
you refuse, and he is disappointed
you could’ve looked like yumeko, or like those asian girls in the pornography he watches
it’s a warning sign, but you ignore it. you’re used to being treated like this now.
it is strange see who he follows on social media
all of the models are asian
they look nothing like you—you have large hips and stretch marks
those girls are thin and smiling in their bikinis, but, nevertheless, they’re asian like you
it’s a coincidence. guys are so weird, you say before you turn off your phone
you sleep restlessly, thinking about whether he looks at their pictures or yours from his phone.
he says he likes strong women, but it seems like a lie
you are usually so opinionated, so brash and loud
around him, though, you change.
you curse less, speak less, respond with those cute emojis he likes that make you feel uncomfortable more
even a strong woman has to be quiet sometimes, right?
he likes this more. he thinks you are cute and submissive, like his perception of a geisha
you start to realize that this is not you anymore. you cry yourself to sleep, silently, like always.
you start feeling like a sex object.
why doesn’t he want to hear about your day, your passions?
he only wants to text you when your parents are asleep and your door is locked.
in the dark, the phone illuminates your face, and you feel so ashamed
goodnight, i love you, before he goes to bed
you feel dirty. just another sleepless night, feeling gouged out and used up.
he leaves you for another girl
she is also asian, and pretty, and looks a tiny bit like you
then he texts you again, he left her
what are you doing? are you free?
ignore him, ignore him, ignore him, do not reply.
yes, i’m free. i missed you. how have you been?
you are finally done with him.
you have endured half a year of being objectified and fetishized.
he saw you as an exotic enchantress, with almond eyes and a mean glint but a soft spot for him
no, now you are a dragon lady, just plain mean as you hurl insults at him, rip into him with your truth
you are such a bitch. you are not who i thought you were. i never even liked you
i thought you were pretty and sweet, but you’re fake
he probably thought you giggled with your hands covering your mouth to please him
again, you tell him you do not care, he did nothing but try to destroy you
goodbye. he is blocked from your life, i am sorry i said everything on my mind
no, actually, i am not sorry at all
you feel like yourself again
you smile, wickedly, he might describe, and you sleep soundly, with no nightmares
you were in there this whole time just waiting, weren’t you?
you cry again, but it is not silent. it is a loud wail, it echoes in your room, but you are free. finally.
goodnight, dragon lady.