ghazal for red daughters

baba look, it is her tongue on her dress. the moon shivering
at the sight of her heartache lips. could that be me someday,

baba? i already hold knives like she does, yield them like the heroines
on your ceiling. my fingers long & nimble, almost touching the scorched

tips of the bangs you braid. do you think my heels arch high
enough, baba? watch me: as i file my nails until they become the blades

& daggers in your dishwasher, the tines on china forks & the names
carved on naked chopsticks. perhaps i can also learn to sift through

each loose thread grasping onto my body, like mama. you taught
me when my legs were still torn apart, crossed like a dinner plate

sewed onto dusted hanfu, that my limbs are a doll’s, cotton-
stuffed & ichorous blood instead of the drugging iron & zinc

needled into mama’s money veins. instead, i learn to watch your blood
as it spills over our verandah, like a punctured mosquito holding

blades in a swarm. your finger tracing baby names in each puddle as
i learn to draw pinyin & skinny mannequins on my walls until i am

like mama to twist the hearts of lung-yearning heroes. i’ve already
learned to dissociate pretty smiles from the bleached hands planted

on my breasts in the time you’ve given me. baba, will my body
become like the stars on her pupils, if i try? head & toes sharpened

until i can no longer feel myself. perhaps, numbness can become
my grossing, the secret to becoming meimei in your eyes.

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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