Arlene Antoinette is a poet of West Indian birth who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Brooklyn College and worked as an instructor with disabled individuals for many years. You may find additional work by Arlene at Foxglove Journal, Little Rose Magazine, I am not a silent Poet, Tuck Magazine, The Feminine Collective, The Open Mouse, Amaryllis Poetry, Cagibi Lit Journal, London Grip, Literary Heist, 50 Word Stories, Neologism Poetry Journal, Right Hand Pointing and Your Daily Poem.
On a Mixed Life
Hong-li, my second cousin twice removed, use to call himself a Chinese-Nayga. I laughed
every time I heard him say so. He was born to a half Chinese, half Black Mother and a full Chinese Father. Stuck between a brother who resembled the legendary Fu Manchu and a sister who looked like a Filipino doll, his Black genes refused to take a back seat to Chinese blood. Asia won his features, Africa won his complexion, his color rivaled my own brownness. Hong-li loved to make us laugh. His thick West Indian accent coupled with an Asian face made every word more comical. On the saddest day of my life, my grandmother’s funeral, he had me holding my side from fits of laughter as he told stories about my grandma and her eagerness to “use the rod of correction” on the backsides of wayward children (which meant mostly his backside). I felt terrible for enjoying such a solemn occasion, but happy he had been there.
A true melding of two races he had all the stereotypical traits of both. A self-professed Jamaican playboy, he was also a lover of liquor, smoking and gambling. His heavy indulgences did not go unpunished and Hong-li suffered from hypertension, emphysema and kidney disease. After enduring dialysis, three times a week for five years, he told us that he had lived the life he wanted with no regrets. He died within a week of that profession. Through health or illness, we live, love and laugh until it’s time for us to let go.