the name had been changed
somewhere between Angel Island and the sea,
when my father the paperson
in the late 1950s
obsessed with a bombshell blond
transliterated "Mei Ling' to "Marilyn." (7-12)
These lines point to what a huge influence our family—and especially our parents—have on our destiny. The speaker's father not only gives her a new name, "Marilyn," he also takes her to a new country.
granddaughter of Jack "the patriarch"
and the brooding Suilin Fong,
daughter of the virtuous Yuet Kuen Wong
and G.G. Chin the infamous,
sister of a dozen, cousin of a million (76-80)
The speaker's words in these lines suggest just how much our identity is determined by our family. The speaker defines herself in terms of her relationships to family members. Ultimately, we are who we are because of whom we're related to.