To be Bi Anything is Radical – Rae Parry poem

To be bi anything is a radical notion

But the irony is that the ‘bi’ in binary demands you choose one side

To be bi anything in anything in any other context is to be both

The meaning of biracial is to be both, to be biracial is to be mixed, blended

And ultimately, forced to choose the side assigned

Because to be bi anything is not admissible




My mother tongue

Spills into my dreams

Falling from my lips unstiltingly

But then I wake up

It cracks in my throat and stumbles

The few phrases to which I’ve so jealously clung

My English tongue flailing around the tongue my mother so lovingly imparted

Spoken like a foreigner through my English lips

Yet my English is British in its fluency

But when my eyes droop from tiredness

Its punctuated by my foreignese

My groping tongue trapped between forgetting and remembering

Because the land I grew up cut out my foreignese first tongue

And from the stump grew my English tongue

But the stump remembers the babbling stream of foreignese

Between the languages and the yawning silences of misunderstandings

My English still marked by its echoes

To be bilingual it had better be French, German or Spanish

Otherwise to be bilingual is incomprehensible




Or rather my face marks out the echoes

My biracial face marked Asian

The report of foreigner skewed against me before I speak

And so the conversations play out like this,

‘Where are you really from?’

Then,

‘Oh your English is very good’

Which translates ‘you don’t belong’

 To which I reply through gritted teeth

‘Thank you. It’s my first language’

And once again their face scrunches in confusion

Be Asian

Be foreign

To be biracial is inadmissible




So,

I learned to trample the British flag in my patriotism

And don a foreign flag

And wield my chopsticks like a shield

So they can’t stab me with them first

To be bi-national is inconceivable

But when ‘Immigration’ and ‘Send them back to where they came from’

Is hurled around the media

I can’t help but think

Where else is there for me to go?

To be bi-national

Translates ‘return to sender’


Rae Parry is from London and writes poetry and short stories.

Photograph courtesy of your local bi-racial person Djemilah Gordon

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