The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Revenge of the Asian Woman by Dorothy Chan


Triple Sonnet for Sad Asian Girls 

I’m watching a video about sad Asian girls

who reenact scenes from their Asian families:

one girl plays the other girl’s mother,

saying to her, “Why are you eating so much?”

the bowl of rice and kimchi dish

on the dinner table, and “I want to go back

to Korea next year, so lose some weight,”

and I want to cry, because sometimes,

I too, am a sad Asian girl with demanding

parents who want to go back to Hong Kong

every year, and sure, everyone’s got

family drama, but my mother ran off

with my father in her twenties—marriage,

coming to America, away from her parents.

And I know my mother misses her sisters

every day, separated by an ocean,

or a flashback to when I was born:

snowy Albany, my mother crying,

begging my father to move back to Hong Kong,

she missed her pajama stalls and medicine shops

and taro desserts and family celebrations

gathered around a mango cake—she didn’t understand

America, and I don’t understand Hong Kong—

her Hong Kong, the way she grew up

with two sisters, giggling after dinner,

running down to buy shrimp crackers and British

chocolates once the meal was over,

and I’m watching a video about sad Asian girls,

thinking about my mother and I fighting

at one of those cheap cafes by my grandparents’,

tasting my own tears as I swallowed my toast

with condensed milk, and I never cry,

but deep down I am a sad Asian girl

watching her parents fight in their homeland,

and I think about my mother at nineteen

falling in love with my father at thirty-three

and moving to America at twenty-five,

and I won’t ever understand her Hong Kong

or her America, and I think back to me

at five, my mother telling me a story

about her favorite doll, how she held it like a daughter.

A daughter was all she ever wanted.



This selection comes from Dorothy Chan’s full-length book, Revenge of the Asian Woman, available from Diode Editions.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Danielle Hanson.

Dorothy Chan is the author of Attack of the Fiy-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018) and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). She was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Academy of American Poets, e Cincinnati Review, e Common, Diode Poetry Journal, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. Chan is the Editor of e Southeast Review and Poetry Editor of Hobart.

Danielle Hanson is the author of Fraying Edge of Sky (Codhill Press Poetry Prize, 2018) and Ambushing Water (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017).  Her work has appeared in over 70 journals, won the Vi Gale Award from Hubbub, was Finalist for 2018 Georgia Author of the Year Award and was nominated for several Pushcarts and Best of the Nets.  She is Poetry Editor for Doubleback Books, and is on the staff of the Atlanta Review. Her poetry has been the basis for visual art included in the exhibit EVERLASTING BLOOM at the Hambidge Center Art Gallery, and Haunting the Wrong House, a puppet show at the Center for Puppetry Arts. More about her at

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