From the first moment I saw you through that screen door,
chopsticks in hand, I knew I had finally found
a teacher to call my own.
You started teaching us from the very beginning.
When you turned around and gave Daniel that stare
we all knew your first lesson: knock, don’t enter.
You taught us patience: after, after.
You showed us that even in our smallest actions
there are lessons in our bones,
there are memories beneath our muscles.
Paint the fence, sand the floor, wax on and off.
How can we ever learn without doing?
Once, in middle school a group of white boys pushed me
around and called me “Karate Kid.”
I remembered what you said “always the eyes.”
I remembered your strength, how you never backed down.
So I stood and looked them dead in their eyes.
I was ready to paint the fence, ready to wax on wax off.
That day, they stopped messing with me
but today the world hasn’t stopped.
They are still calling us names.
They are still trying to fight us, still trying to beat us down.
How can we move on when history repeats itself?
You once said “you’re looking for revenge. The way to start
is by digging two graves.”
I don’t want revenge. I don’t want the anger.
I want balance in my life.
I want to learn to stand, then fly.
Mr. Miyagi, I haven’t given up.
I’m still learning how to grow.
I’m still trying to catch flies with chopsticks.
Anhvu Buchanan is the author of The Disordered (sunnyoutside press) and Backhanded Compliments & Other Ways to Say I Love You (Works on Paper Press ) and Which Way To Go or Here (Platypus Press) co-written with Brent Piller. He was the recipient of the James D. Phelan Award and also received an Individual Artists Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission. He received an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State. He currently teaches in San Francisco and can be found online at www.anhvubuchanan.com or on twitter @anhvubuchanan.