Nellie Wong

(1934 / Oakland, California)

Mama, Come Back - Poem by Nellie Wong

Mama, come back.
Why did you leave
now that I am learning you?
The landlady next door
how she apologizes
for my rough brown skin
to her tenant from Hong Kong
as if I were her daughter,
as if she were you.

How do I say I miss you
your scolding
your presence
your roast loin of pork
more succulent, more tender
than any hotel chef's?

The fur coat you wanted
making you look like a polar bear
and the mink-trimmed coat
I once surprised you
on Christmas morning.

Mama, how you said 'importment'
for important,
your gold tooth flashing
an insecurity you dared not bare,
wanting recognition
simply as eating noodles
and riding in a motor car
to the supermarket
the movie theater
adorned in your gold and jade
as if all your jewelry
confirmed your identity
a Chinese woman in America.

How you said 'you better'
always your last words
glazed through your dark eyes
following me fast as you could
one November evening in New York City
how I thought 'Hello, Dolly! '
showed you an America
you never saw.

How your fear of being alone
kept me dutiful in body
resentful in mind.
How my fear of being single
kept me
from moving out.

How I begged your forgiveness
after that one big fight
how I wasn't wrong
but needed you to love me
as warmly as you hugged strangers.

Topic(s) of this poem: mother


Comments about Mama, Come Back by Nellie Wong

  • Susan Williams Susan Williams (5/13/2016 3:08:00 PM)


    Unhappy slice of life yet truthfully painfully written and shared. At times it seems she mocks her mother, sharing images of her that put her down. Other times she shows glimpses of love for her mother. Other times she sounds like a bratty teenager sulking because she didn't get her way.. It makes those who had close, warm and loving relationships with their mothers [like I did] be very happy we were so blessed (Report) Reply

    4 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Jayatissa K. Liyanage Jayatissa K. Liyanage (5/13/2016 10:31:00 AM)


    One doesn't ave to lose mother temporarily or permanently, o feel her value. Motherhood becomes so precious, particularly while it is functioning. Poem refreshes our attachments to mother, what ever and where ever we are. Tanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Ratnakar Mandlik (5/13/2016 7:12:00 AM)


    A well crafted poem on mother elaborating memoirs of mother and her concern and expiating for being away from her. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis Edward Kofi Louis (5/13/2016 6:29:00 AM)


    Needed you to love me! Nice work. (Report) Reply

  • Mehta Hasmukh Amathalal Mehta Hasmukh Amathalal (5/13/2016 12:35:00 AM)


    Nice one...good expression...10


    You were advocate of cleanliness
    And made it like mad chase
    You were shouting from top voice
    For lifting dust and papers with so much of noise (Report) Reply

  • Vallerie Lobell (9/11/2006 6:19:00 PM)


    A beautiful heartfelt poem.....Best Wishes....Vallerie (Report) Reply

Read all 6 comments »



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Read poems about / on: america, identity, christmas, daughter, car, fear, city, woman, alone, dark, women



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

Poem Edited: Wednesday, December 17, 2014


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