“Mothers, Daughters, Expectations” Poems by Chloe Kerr


My mother’s features are painted on
Constructed and made up
By the bits and pieces of generations before her own.

She has beautiful cool ivory skin,
But I like her charcoal eyes the best.

They are black holes
Sucking you into a whirlwind of despair and darkness
That only she knows the end of.


Before, I did not want to learn Chinese
Because it was too hard
Because I was too lazy
Because I didn’t want to share in her culture

Even my father
Who is English,
Encouraged me.
But I did not want to easily please my mother.

So, she stopped forcing me.
Gave up, and started accepting
That I had severed myself
From my culture

She spoke to me in English
And to her friends in Chinese
Carefully whispering away
Her anxieties
And disappointment.

Now that I have learned
More Chinese
I realize
That there is poetry
In the simplest phrase
That my mother says
In the language she spoke in secret
Until I was old enough to appreciate it



Cold to the touch
Like the Jades my mother wore.
The ones from childhood
High above my reach
High above expectation
             Far beyond what I wanted

And it was confusing
When I did the right thing
When I said the right thing
But still was so far away from her

Good jades are cold
But I was an inferno
Too hot for my mother
To teach me how
She had managed to cradle all that ice
Without a single drop of water
Falling to the floor

Image by Amanda Wan

Great Minds, Not Mine: Expectations in A New Generation

Hard work means rough hands
So leave them rough
Great Minds, she thinks,
All started somewhere

Brush strokes, hand marks, and photographs
Leave imprints as deceivingly permanent
As a mark on wet cement
One day, she thinks,
That sidewalk will wear too

Not mine, she is taught to say when questioned.
Who let the clay dry in such irregular shapes?
Great Minds, she confesses
Not mine.

If we need new ways of thinking,
Then we need new ways of expressing
Take down that painting of
My mother’s, mother’s mother
It’s not mine

A great mind says not mine
To the works of a past that
No longer speaks to or positively influences
The way your hands work to
Experience our place of being

Chloe Kerr
Chloe Kerr is an English Literature major who loves to dabble in the art world whenever she isn’t burrowing her face in a novel or writing a paper. Chloe, who recently completed her undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree, has taken many creative writing courses, and credits her biracial background (her mother is Chinese and her father is Scottish) for her curiosity and passion for studying and exploring all to do with multiculturalism and immigrant culture.


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