Not that I dress my daughter in Armani or Gucci,
Not that she is layered with pinafores,
curls fastidiously spun like Shirley Temple’s,
Me starching and pressing and doing all that work
to adorn an angel.
When I see another little girl
standing by the slide when we walk into the school’s
and she is there
in same exact shirt from our Auntie R:
long sleeves, faint blue stripes, pink rosette at the neck,
waist accentuated gleefully with ruffle,
I am bit with the suspicion of a viper
and I cannot hold my tongue that maybe
my girl left it here, at school,
and I maybe never marked her name,
and so it is over now.
you see, the shirt is from Target, in America,
near Herndon, I know the street,
and there is no Target here,
in mega-city Tokyo
and I know the style of clothing
that ranges here
and this is partly why teachers and mothers notice my kids’ clothing–
it is not from here.
This is part of why, yesterday, on another slide,
a boy called me strange. “Hen okaason“.
If I am weird, stand-out, stick-up,
at least my kids should wear nice clothes,
the short and tanks and shoes of another nation,
the faraway stamps that find us like kisses, airmail
from the aunts and uncles who support our different, the ways we adapt and
stay just plain kids and mom and dad who like American shoes, an American bra,
and peanut butter candy.
Target is now exotic and it is the aunties
who’ve made my kids stick-out
with colors that are different, less sedate,
less print, little text, if at all.
And so now
I am consigned to pilfer my girl’s hamper,
mine and my husband’s too,
searching heartbeat raised for that spiral-rosette
and ruffle waist.
Because more than likely,
the little girl I saw,
the one whose name I do not know,
does not have an aunt in America,
does not know Target
or the lengths me and the aunties go
to show up and then let go.
Look! I am not new at this: A similar accusing post from nearly two years back!
I would make a great spy with all the overthinking I do.