Tag Archives: Sarena Tien

Sarena Tien

“Wǒ ài nǐ”

“Regisrasin,” my mom says,
and I correct it to “registration”
which she repeats,
the word lilting into a question

that I answer with “good,”
the same response I gave her
when she finally said “avocado”
instead of “agobado,”

leading to her laughter
as she informs me,
“I’ll forgot that”—

and although I sigh,
my heart is smiling, because
as long as she forgets
the English that I teach her,

I can tell her
“我爱你” (I love you)
whenever I want.

Sarena Tien is a Chinese-American writer, feminist, and Francophile.

Sarena Tien

Polyglot

“Wǒ bù zhī dào” / « Je ne sais pas » / “I don’t know”
is what I want to tell people
when they ask
how many languages I speak

because even though I learned
Chinese at home,
French at school,
and English in America,

having grown up
shy, Chinese-American, and a girl
also taught me to be well-versed in
the languages of

“Can you speak up?”
“Where are you really from?”
and “Don’t go out by yourself at night.”

Sarena Tien is a Chinese-American writer, feminist, and Francophile.