• Esther Um


Updated: Jan 18, 2021

...I love you.


I love you!

I do! I do love you!

Because remember last weekend,

After you took me to Van Leeuwens?

I looked at you and

You stared back with the most perfect earnest grin,

Dairy- free, strawberry ice cream residue on your lips,

In the corduroy jacket you thrifted from Buffalo Exchange,

That you swear is vintage and not from Urban Outfitters.

And I thought to myself,

‘How could a person look so perfect under these harsh city lights.’

It was as if they were engineered to suit the very shades God painted you in,

So that you resemble the love interest in every A24 film I idolize;

Your light eyes shimmering through the cinematic sepia tint.

Jaw so chiseled— I wondered if Michelangelo himself had sculpted you,

And if we were in Night at the Museum, and you’re a Renaissance statue,

Brought alive by some ancient Egyptian tablet, under the watchful eye of Ben Stiller.

As we walked down 3rd Ave, the buildings framed your face in a way

That made me think, “This city was built for you.”

“These roads were paved for your feet.”

In that moment,

I loved you.

I believed I loved you.

Then, a sort of rude awakening hit me,

A violent yet familiar punch in the gut.

All at once, I am reminded that

Ah yes, this world was made for you.

A bunch of men who were painted in the same rosy shades as you,

Got together one day and decided that

Everything in this world was to be seen in relation to them and ultimately to you.

They traveled all across the world and said,

“All of this that has existed long before us— actually belongs to us— we are the God-ordained owners.”

So they built a country, a system made for those who belong in A24 movies and Renaissance paintings.

For those who, according to nearly every movie I’ve seen in my short life time,

Are the heroes, the protagonists, sometimes villains but always redeemable and worthy of sympathy.

Then I wonder,

If all of this was created for you,

Then was I?

Growing up I loved Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Nancy Drew, Cinderella;

All of them delicately painted in the same shades as you.

They were the just, the righteous, the talented, intelligent, unique, beautiful, lovable,

And I did not exist.

But if I did, I was Cho Chang:

Dainty exotic object of your yearning, your desire;

A foreign oddity in a place where only you could belong.

An intentionally sloppy blot of color,

Made beautiful by your loving gaze,

Made special by your perfect sense of belonging,

I existed only in relation to you because otherwise I was invisible.

And I want to love you.

I do.

I really do.

I want to know with certainty

That this feeling inside of me,

Isn’t just the result of a lifetime’s worth of propaganda.

That this burning from deep within,

Isn’t the spark of a triumphant revolution that never came to be.

But the truth is,

In a world built to fit you like a glove,,

There are walls too tall for us to scale,

Built long before they knew either of us would be here,

Or that an “us” could ever exist.

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