Identity Poem

I am bare bones / brittle skeleton / no skin
thick tongue / thin hair / no voice /
I
taught myself to speak

quietly or / not at all / I
am disruptive / disrespectful / dissimilar
from my mother even though our blood runs
the same, red / hot / angry enough to

scald eager tastebuds, make you
lose feeling / faith / memory / lose memory of
my face, pallid like nausea; I am
always throwing up from

fever / motion sickness / insecurity / once,
I jammed two fingers down my throat till I
gagged then did it again / again / again till I
puked. Once, I ran so hard

bile burned its way up my throat and I
puked and I felt skinnier / prettier / emptier
a gutted gourd / infertile / nothing but rind /

yet still not interesting enough for anyone to

bite my lips / bruise my neck / I want to be
set ablaze at the stake if it’ll burn away flesh
like calories like guilt for not loving myself
more, like we’re supposed to. I want to

pry my ribcage open / I want to find my
beating heart / I want to know it’s there /
grown from the dirt and decomposition and
disappointment rotting in my cartilage / I want
to breathe / breathe / breathe.

Iris Yu is a Chinese-American student from northeastern Ohio. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Vagabond City, sinθ, and Blue Marble Review. She is an alumna of the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference (’19) and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio (’20). Her favorite word is ‘skyscraper’ and her favorite fruit is persimmon.

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2 Responses to Identity Poem

  1. JB says:

    This really resonates with me as someone who has gone through this sort of thing, thank you for sharing ❤

  2. Vereya says:

    This is an interesting style of writing, though I enjoy poetry that is feel-good.

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