How I Will Save My Tongue

1. I will not take community ed classes to recover the language of my birth. Nor will I linger before my mother’s gravestone in regret. Instead, I will watch karaoke videos on YouTube, letting highlighted text create connections between the written and spoken words.

2. I will eat Thai chili peppers. They will be delicious, and they will come at a price. Diarrhea is the cost one must pay for honoring our authentic selves.

3. I will stop kissing. Butts. People. Men infected with viruses invisible to the naked eye.

4. I will eat chocolate cake lathered in caramel goo and accompanied by 2% milk. I am not one of those lactose-intolerant Asians.

5. I will spend my evenings practicing comeback lines so the next time I hear, “Where are you from?” I can say, “Shut the fuck up, motherfucker” instead of stuttering. Or worse, silently shutting myself down. If I keep practicing my comeback lines, I will have a quicker response time. I will sound witty. I will have fewer regrets. I will no longer say hours, days, even years later, “I should have said something.”

May Lee-Yang (she/her) is a writer, performer, and educator. Her work has been supported by the Playwright Center McKnight Fellowship, the Bush Leadership Fellowship, the MN State Arts Board, and the Loft Literary Center. She is co-founder of Funny Asian Women Kollective (FAWK) and holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota.