Ode to Chinese Superstitions, Haircuts, and Being a Girl

Chinese superstition tells me it’s bad luck
? ? ? ? ?to get a haircut when I’m sick, and my hair
gets cut twice a year, because I let it grow,
? ? ? ? ?tying it into a ponytail, exposing my forehead,
looking like I’m the protagonist of an anime,
? ? ? ? ?which makes me think about my last name,
Chan, also known as the ?Japanese honorific
? ? ? ? ?for someone endearing. Chan, like a friend

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? or someone childlike. I’ve been told I sound
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?like a child when I pick up the phone, or maybe
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? it’s my pure joy to hear from the ones I love.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?And yes, voices are sexier than faces, so dial me,
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? honey, let’s get a little wild tonight, as I pour
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?a glass of ?bourbon and picture myself in anime—
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? cartoon Chan starring in a slice-of-life show
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?about a girl group trying to make it, and you bet


I’d be the rambunctious one, the tomboy-
? ? ? ? ?rabble-rouser-ringleader on the drums—
the ?trouble ?with the exposed forehead, also
? ? ? ? ?known in East Asian culture as a symbol
of ?aggression, because an exposed forehead
? ? ? ? ?puts everything out there—you’re telling
the world you’re ready for a takedown,
? ? ? ? ?and according to my father, good Chinese


? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? girls never show their foreheads, and I know
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?he wishes I were born in the Year of ?the Rabbit,
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? like my mother, the perfect woman with flawless
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?skin who never causes trouble with the boys, but
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? no, I’m the Year of the Snake, and I always bring
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?the party, cause the trouble, or as my lover says,
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I’m sarcastic wit personified, and it’s boundless,
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?because I am Dorothy—pop embodied in a gingham


skirt with a puppy and a picnic basket
? ? ? ? ?filled with prosciutto and gouda and Prosecco,
but really, what is my fate? And my mother
? ? ? ? ?tells me the family fortune teller got me all
wrong, because there’s no way in hell
? ? ? ? ?I’d end up being a housewife with three
children and a breadwinner of a husband.
? ? ? ? ?But of course, the fortune teller got my brother’s


? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? fate right. It’s moments like this when I wonder
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?if I even matter because I’m a girl and not a boy.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? It’s moments like this when I think about my fate,
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?or how Chinese superstition tells me not to cut or wash
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? my hair on Lunar New Year, so all my good fortune
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?won’t be snipped away. But really, what is fate?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I tie my hair back and put on a short skirt, ready
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?to take over the world—forehead forever exposed.

More Poems by Dorothy Chan