Skip to main content
By Shirley Geok-Lin Lim

because it has no pure products


because the Pacific Ocean sweeps along the coastline

because the water of the ocean is cold

and because land is better than ocean


because I say we rather than they


because I live in California

I have eaten fresh artichokes

and jacaranda bloom in April and May


because my senses have caught up with my body

my breath with the air it swallows

my hunger with my mouth


because I walk barefoot in my house


because I have nursed my son at my breast

because he is a strong American boy

because I have seen his eyes redden when he is asked who he is

because he answers I don’t know


because to have a son is to have a country

because my son will bury me here

because countries are in our blood and we bleed them


because it is late and too late to change my mind

because it is time.


Shirley Geok-lin Lim, “Learning to love America” from What the Fortune Teller Didn’t Say. Copyright © 1998 by Shirley Geok-lin Lim. Reprinted with the permission of West End Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Source: What the Fortune Teller Didn’t Say (West End Press, 1998)

  • Mythology & Folklore
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Shirley Geok-Lin Lim
Born in Malacca, Malaysia, Shirley Geok-Lin Lim was raised by her Chinese father and attended missionary schools. Although her first languages were Malay and the Hokkin dialect of Chinese, she was able to read English by the time she was six. Lim emigrated to the United States after college, settling eventually in California.  See More By This Poet

More Poems about Mythology & Folklore

Browse poems about Mythology & Folklore

More Poems about Social Commentaries

Browse poems about Social Commentaries