I was told
In Science class
That cold water
Poured into hot glass
Would shatter it
So why am I surprised
That I am a creature
Of splintered parts
When I am an eastern container
Made to swallow western rhetoric

I don’t think people understand
That I am still learning
To speak like an American
Just so that my voice can take up space
Unlearning the cultural baggage
That weighed down my spine
Into a curved bow
Of civility and humbleness
Of amiability and sweet agreements

Easy Mai pen rais
And Sabai Sabai
Is hard to get by
In a place full of people
Taught to talk the talk
So scared of silences
And interruptions
In their capitalist race for vocalization

So how do I with a bowed spine
Push to stand beside
These poster child
What do I do if my fire
Drips in tinge of blues
Like the sweet face of the Andaman
That carries the kind of depths
Yosemite cannot reach to
Different from the cutting redness
Of these poster child
Who burn bright and flicker fast
Conquer too soon before they understood
Who they devour
Who they erase
In their manic race
To make a dent in the world
So terrified of not being heard
They don’t know how to listen

You see,
When they look at me
They see a small-town girl
From a small-town country
And they don’t understand why my voice waver
When these vocal cords are constantly strained
From learning to hold back
Unpleasantries in a collective
And then learning to shout
In an individualist culture
Still practicing the changing rhythms
Of my shifting environment
They don’t understand why I break so easy
And come undone
They don’t understand how I can be so weak

When the short journey they took from their mother’s womb
To where I had to fight tooth and nail
To scramble to
Takes a warrior
With a bowed spine yes
But a warrior nonetheless
Just to stand alongside these straight-backed creatures
With perfectly braided hair
Stiff spines and fine-tuned speech

They don’t understand
That my brand of fierceness
Is my vulnerability
That the strengths
My Khun Yai taught me
Is honesty
And humility
And seeing the people who need you
That true strength isn’t in the competition
But the conversation
And listening compassion
Not how much you can talk the talk
Or walk the walk
Hashtag girlboss
But how far you actually go back
Toward those who have much less than you do

Growing up in a small town province
Of a small town country
I have been taught that all you have is one another
And there’s better use of voices
Than to that of shouting over the other
But rather
To notice who might be needing
Some patient listening

You see, I was told
In Science class
That cold water
Poured into hot glass
Would shatter it
And I am still learning to put myself back together
In a way that I can still keep my roots
And still get a place at the table
And be heard and understood
By poster child who weren’t brought up to listen
My kind of inflection