Durian | Teen Ink


July 31, 2022
By aileenalc05 BRONZE, Seoul, Other
aileenalc05 BRONZE, Seoul, Other
2 articles 1 photo 0 comments

Durians are gross. 

I would say to my mother,


with an ungrateful distaste for its rich odor.

Its golden lime spikes sat on our plate,

the tips overreaching the dividers of our fridge

and it just sat there, 

spreading its reek of foreign perfume.

I just wanted to get rid of it. 


The durian aged into a custard hue,

the color of my skin 

the color of the heritage that I rejected on my flesh. 

Within the house of ochre seeds, 

I was surrounded by a chamber of white. 


I grew up 

wishing the blonde on my skin was my hair 

I grew up

bleaching the culture in my blood 

I grew up 

biting down on my mother tongue.


Why am I just a seedling?

To paint a canvas full of 

privilege and wrong answers,

why do I have to be the white chamber? 


Not all durians come in a plastic wrapping, 

some spines are honing its own claw, 

some carry a greater weight, 


Reckon that durians comes in a variety, 

people still box it into the same old packages.

Reckon that I too have my own variety, 

people still box it into plastics,

thinking I’d eat my durians with chopsticks. 


*臭死了(Chòu sǐle): its terribly stinky

The author's comments:

The entire poem is a metaphor, it uses durians as a comparison to my race. Durians have a yellow shell, a thick white barrier around the seed, and the seed is also yellow. I used durians because people hate the fruit for its strange smell. Because of its smell, people refuse to eat it and easily assume that it would taste weird. I thought this analogy implied very well to my experiences as an Asian. Throughout my childhood, I grew up in an environment that emphasized Eurocentric beauty standards and western superiority. Thus, it was a challenge for me to be proud of my asian background. I am Korean Chinese, and I love my home country’s traditional food. The only issue is, however, every time I packed home lunch for school, my bag reeked of kimchi and the strong scent of Chinese seasonings. My white friends, with their peanut butter sandwiches, complained about a weird smell oozing in the classroom. The complaints came to a stop when I started to eat school lunch. Additionally, I faced multiple instances where I felt ugly due to my asian facial structure. In Korea, the beauty standard is to have a small nose, heart-shaped lips, round face, and double eye-lids. I noticed that my white friends would be naturally tailored with these features while I was born with the exact opposite of what was considered to be beautiful. I wanted to be white, it seemed like the world favored them over me, an Asian. 

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