At the beach, the small child—
She's no more than eight—
Smears white sticky sunblock
Onto her porcelain face.
Carefully drawn, Japanese eyes
Peer through the make-up
Like a little Geisha.
Tight Jewish curls topple
Down from the top of her head
Like a little child clown.
Is this what it is to be American?
To have a Jewish father, a Japanese mother,
To vacation at the seaside on Cape Cod,
And put sunblock on when the sun gets too hot?
Later, I look over and see the girl
Placidly pasting shapes into a paper sailboat
While the father sits nearby
Cutting them out for her with sharp scissors.