Forgive me that I was always afraid
to touch the things that mattered most.
All those years of bloodletting and still
I could not kill the fear that made a house
of me. Still I carry this old heart around
in my mouth like a wound. Everyone
wants a war to mean something. Here
it means I opened my mouth to unmake
history and all my past lives fled from
my body like ghosts. It means I swallowed
the ghosts and spat out a swarm of bullets
that chased down all my unremembered griefs.
I reached for the silver lightning streaking
overhead but could not grasp it. My greatest
mistake was to forget the nature of wanting:
an imagined body that exists only in relation
to other bodies, which, miraculously, against
known laws of physics, produces its own gravity.
I burn it out from blood, disavow
the body, but cannot erase
the softness of space that shows
that something once lived there.
I do not say it aloud but
truthfully, I am comforted
by this haunting. Truthfully,
the blood in my mouth would not
be so sweet
were it not yours.

KJ Li is a Chinese-American writer raised in central Texas. She currently lives in D.C., where she takes long walks to podcasts and misses the family cat. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Lumiere Review, Rust + Moth, The Adroit Journal, and others.

This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Inheritance

  1. luvgoodcarp says:

    That’s a wonderful closing line.

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