Fieldnotes (V)

1) I wanted to locate my roots in someplace sexy / when I took the DNA test at
24 / I wanted scientific evidence / that “exotic” could designate anything /
except for a fetish

2) as the sum of my saliva on swabs / I was an ugly American kid / the brown girl hiding behind her books / & I built up my brain as compensation

3) before I rewrote the dictionary’s definitions into a marble notebook / before I watched the educational programming on PBS Kids / before I memorized decks of Brain Quest cards / I was born Bangladeshi with A+ blood

4) I wanted to know if my bloodline fucked white people & if that was why my family or what I knew of it was foscha & thereby beautiful according to the Bangladeshi eye

5) with my bloodline & me trapped inside helices / the DNA test confirmed my homogeneity / 84% Central & South Asian / 14% East Asian / the remaining trace results were dismissed / due to experimental error

6) I was just another brown bitch

7) when I returned to the country of my birth / I was 21 / I was bideshi / a foreigner in Dhaka’s streets / in my pink Banana Republic shirtdress & black jeans / in my Americana marked fuckworthy / as aspirated consonants / fell from men’s mouths / I still don’t know all the bad words in Bangla / but I knew those words / in Dhaka’s hundred-degree streets / I tried to dress modestly / to look like a real Bangali girl / I bought tailor-made Bangladeshi clothes / to pass as a real Bangali girl

8) before I left / my relatives in Bangladesh told me / that if I never opened my mouth of broken Bangla / & if I ever wore a sari or a salwar kameez / that any Bangladeshi could still look at me / & know instantly / that I wasn’t a woman of their country

Anuradha Bhowmik is a Bangladeshi-American poet. She is a 2018 AWP Intro Journals Project Winner in poetry and earned her MFA from Virginia Tech. She has received awards from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Community of Writers, and the Fine Arts Work Center. Her work appears in The Sun, Pleiades, Quarterly West, DIAGRAM, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, Slice, Copper Nickel, and elsewhere.