Isabel Cruz: When My Classmates Call Me Foreigner

Isabel Cruz: When My Classmates Call Me Foreigner



when i talk to my brothers,

my mother tongue dripping off my teeth like honey,

they do not understand; cannot comprehend that

the honey was the first thing my parents gave

us; that the honey they cannot taste is the honey

from our motherland that my parents will never

have again


there is a difference in knowing that you

were raised in one place and knowing

that your roots were purposefully yanked out

so that they could be grown somewhere else –

somewhere along the line, you think to

yourself: “what right do i have to drink the

water of this land? what right do i have to glean

the nutrients of their soil?”

what right do i have to exist as a human in

a country that refuses to call me their own,

despite the fact that i now consider it my home?


when my classmates call me foreigner,

as though my mouth cannot curl around the

same slang as theirs, as though my stomach

has not gotten used to the same food as them,

as though my feet have not walked the same roads

as them –

as though all my years of growing up in this

country meant nothing at all. sometimes i wish i can

sink between the folds of the concrete just so

i can say that i am here,

i am here,

i always have been.


i know that i am not dead

but my body does not exist on one plane;

i am like a ghost, floating between

Heaven and Earth, between Sky and Sea,

not knowing where she’s allowed to be.

am i one or another?

how can i belong there when i do not know how to

live there anymore?

“but how can you consider this place home

when you were never born here?”

i am a semi-colon, a hypothesis –

a hyphen in an otherwise perfect sentence

and it both irks me and excites me

that i am a bridge between two different

worlds that would otherwise not mix

that would otherwise not co-exist

that would otherwise like to pretend

the other is a myth

i am one of the million dust motes swept under

the rug one of the million names cancelled out

one of the million children split into two

and forced to choose

between just one

version of


Isabel Cruz was born in The Philippines but raised in Singapore. She now has two places that considers home. Isabel is a 20-year-old writer and poet who believes that stories are one of the strongest things on earth; she wants to be able to weave ones so beautiful she could inspire generations. As of right now, however, she is eagerly and enthusiastically publishing her work on Instagram and Harness Magazine. Instagram