Mahjong

i remember

green-backed tiles

clacking onto our water-stained table

the feeling of

glossy plastic sliding under my fingers

yawns stifled

in the pursuit of victory


i remember

playing mahjong

‘til the birds stopped chirping

‘til my eyes fogged over

‘til my world become

our rickety table

the clatter of tiles

a game

of taking and giving


i never learned how to read the characters correctly

north, east, south, west

were unfamiliar to my weary eyes

my mouth stumbled

over unfamiliar sounds

as i called out my victories

in a language

that i had lost and found

forgot and remembered

blamed and forgiven


mahjong was home

that i know

was my path back to my heritage

was my airplane ticket

to a family i rarely saw

mahjong was a language

that could never be replaced


here’s another thing i know

not a day goes by

that i don’t think of rebranding myself

but i can’t

you see?

because i am so firmly stuck in this skin of mine

and when i look in the mirror

i see generations of women who have been in this skin too

who have tossed plastic tiles onto their tables

who have feared, loved, hated, and fought

to find themselves in their skin

i see a legacy

that can never be rebanded


- Kaitlyn Fa

Cover Photo Source: https://www.cbc.ca/life/culture/the-beginner-s-guide-to-the-greatest-pastimes-mahjong-1.4739808