What I am not

I am not


Quiet,

trembling

at your anger.


One flame of many to waver in darkness,

edges of orange to flicker

precariously—

a hopeless cause,

an idle being,

a fire

meant to warm.

I am

weaponized,

wax-melting,

wind-defying

wildfire.

I am trees smoking up, leaves

crisping amid a flurry of

red, mangled bark burnt black,

napalm orange mingled with gray,

this destruction

I can cause

for I am not

the flame atop your frosted cake,

not simply a fire to wane with your wish.

Oh, I wish you knew:

Of this scorching willingness

to prove you wrong

for I am so much more than you think.

Asians are often portrayed as a submissive population. Stereotypes, especially those of Asian women, abide by notions that we cannot stand up for themselves or be courageous. But the truth is that the Asian experience is not monolithic: we are not all the same—in personality, appearance, and experiences. This poem is dedicated to everyone who has ever felt utterly reduced to the caricature of Asians being docile. For a long time, I saw myself as the same timid girl others had perceived of me, but I broke this mold by realizing that I didn’t want to perpetuate the inaccurate portrayal that all Asians are quiet or even weak. Asian women are strong-minded, willful beings—a culmination of numerous, dynamic traits too nuanced to be condensed to one.


- Angela Huynh