skinned with 99 cents

a haibun for mother

& we trail each other’s spit through the grazed floors, calluses scorching on the pits of our feet. my mouth lays itself on each redneck snapper, tongue open in bidding sky as if each letter of my country is spilling from my thinning cheekbones, pinyin forgotten like the lingering rust at the back of my throat. perhaps each bone we carry remains caved in the hollow of our veins & to us, it is called kōngxū, but to them it is only sickness, a cancer contagious to the raw meat of their wrists. watch: as they burn our manuscripts & unstopper each hole in our bodies until they carcass like pouring paper. we become a toy to the white man that carves americanized name into our lips, bulbous & throbbing as long as they learn to call it exotic. lay down your hair, měirén, & give me a kiss. i am only princess when my hair is fisted in their palms. you, a mother who learns to skin the back of her throat to give them another makeshift palm. & we, who scrape the back of our throats to survive.

translations // kōngxū – emptiness / měirén – beautiful woman

Vivian Huang is a sixteen-year-old poet from Irvine, California. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in The Lumiere Review, Paper Crane Journal, Ice Lolly Review, Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine and elsewhere. She is the Editor-in-Chief at The Cloudscent Journal, and edits for The Lunar Journal and Crossroads Literary Magazine.

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