APRIL POETRY: "Confessions to My Father" by Grace Wang

March 19, 2019

This April, to recognize and honor National Poetry Month, we curated a folio of poems by 10 Asian American high school students. This page features Grace Wang's "Confessions to My Father." We invite you to take a moment to read the other nine poems in this collection here.

— Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Poetry Editor

Confessions to My Father

I have worn every version
of bitterness around my neck
like a cangue, bruises printed
on my shoulders in the shape
of your fingernails. And after
each round of imprisonment
I decide that I cannot blame you
for wanting a son.
It was how you were fathered.

And how I was fathered:
I remember you planting
the sapling of a Chinese cherry tree
in the backyard, a tradition to
bless the family. It was a tree
that never flowered but produced
fruit anyway. I ate its cherries greedily
and marveled at the red stains
that trickled down my throat.
That year I was drenched
in the guilt of my love for you.
I played baseball and buzzed
my hair close to my scalp
so you could fantasize about me.

When I later faced you,
with wet lips
and a bloody body,
you criticized confidently,
disregarding the way
I had tenderized girlish.

How manly it is
for a father to seek fault
in his own child.

In fact, no womanhood
sticks to me so firmly
as the one you have implanted:
a ripe cherry hanging loosely
from its thin stem, lips open.
Ready to relinquish its seed
in exchange for a hollow body,
which will fall silently
from its tarnished anchor
once winter comes.


About This Poem:
I imagine my father as a cherry tree: one that never flowers but dutifully produces fruit anyway. He raised me like a princess, but in many ways he sees himself as a king, and sometimes I wonder if I am enough for him. Even if we view the world differently, I will always be his daughter, the fruit that grew without a flower to welcome it.


This piece was published as part of the April Youth Poetry Folio. To see other works from the folio, please visit the table of contents here.


Grace Wang

Grace Wang is a junior at Columbus North High School in Columbus, IN. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Indiana Repertory Theatre and the Adroit Journal. She spends all her summers in China, where she fell in love with storytelling.