I Am Made of War

I am made of war.
I was conceived by the bloodshed between the North and the South,
born from the vicious rivalry between communism and democracy.
I am the byproduct of a refugee’s choice
between the comfortable past and the free future.
But I cannot be of both.

I am made of war.
I am the constant wrangle between the old and new.
I am the the lack of compromise between tradition and progress.
I am the the irreconcilable differences between what it means to be Vietnamese
and what it means to be American.
But I cannot be both.

But why can’t I be both?
The North and the South eventually became one.
Communism will someday progress to democracy.
The refugee is both parts his past and and his future!
And the old with some work can perhaps become new.
And progress can still be rooted in tradition,
and for heavens sake,
I am Vietnamese-American.

You taught me to war with myself.
You likened my soul to a word
for it is broken when it is torn in two
and likewise you tore me in two
so I would be a broken word,
a torn-in-half piece of paper that even tape cannot fully ever fix.

But I put myself back together
and in doing so
I realized that I am not a broken word,
I am in fact a hyphen
bridging two words
into one intertwined unity.
And you can believe that I am a torn-in-half piece of paper,
but at least light shines through my cracks.

I am not made of war.
I am made of hyphens.