Excerpted Instructions for Ending a Hunger Strike
an erasure of the speech given by Zhao Ziyang in Tiananmen Square on May 19, 1989
1. Too late. Whatever.
2. Bodies, irreparable bodies: dangerous
to end hope, to stop time.
3. See, you are not like us.
4. Not easy sacrificing
your moment: go on. The heart
out the door, to visit consequences.
5. What happens now can end you.
Back to the Scene
Of the crime: singing a Young Pioneers song
off-key, let us sway twin oars, not knowing
all the words. There I spotted my cousin marching
on the streets from my perch on my father’s neck,
we walked right past him and my sharp mouth told him
to stop asking for trouble. While you were out,
Death swung by looking for you. And yet. I
stood at daybreak, watching the Five-starred Red Flag being raised
on the Square, soaking in pride, the gentle brush of dawn
applied to me as heat to dough, I was already swelling.
Yesterday I studied Google Maps again (its lonely
searching dot blue and speculative, a cyclops
sweeping for the firewall), fingers tracing hutong sealed
in wax, gates a bribe again from resurrection, ring roads
tossed around new developments I could not name. On my last visit
I had old timey yogurt with a paper top
rubberbanded to the glass bottle. Every day the world
gets closer, learns how to hurt me a little better. I remembered
the Young Pioneers song while kayaking on disputed waters
and let the top of my lungs take it from there.
Photograph of He Xiang by X. Li.