“What language conceals is said through my body.” – Roland Barthes
I touched everything, but the more I touched, I learned,
the more I broke. Like the time with the stairwell bannister,
that spot already on its way. I just helped it to its fate.
My father saw and warned he’d break my arm, leaving
me to wonder if my arm was mine or his.
There’s more but if I translated all he said, it would sound
sweeter. My brother, the one to come and soothe. My brother,
years later also the one to hit me while I was watching tv—
a smack interrupting and a sudden welt on my back.
My breath was gone. Funny, how I can forgive my brother,
not my father for teaching him. And no, I can’t praise my father
for never hitting me—his threats, a metronome keeping my life
in rhythm. If I try hard enough, I can forget but
a part of me wishes to keep my hand on these memories,
to feel them to their ends. Earlier today, I touched
a hot pan and dropped my dinner, then flinched
as I waited for the voice. Once, I let a lover place
his hands around my throat. I don’t want to
like it. My body, powerless with another;
forgiveness before I can even shape the words.
purple half-moon scar
running down the stairs to see
mess on every branch
our mouth can’t move us
away from the scene a bowl
our father beating
the dirt out of the carpet
and wringing the laugh
from the house grew his
silences louder until
his hand spoke our name
and shook the new pears
off their branches he controls
the weather he makes
the breeze the rain feel
like blessing from gods the sun
a beautiful flare
until it burns our
skin nine shades of scarlet: a
cardinal in flight
I am aligning myself with pleasure. This means daily I pray
for theirs—my neighbors who fuck loud.
They fight the same. I learn the sound
is better than the silence after. Stars as I try to see
straight when I rise from knees
too swiftly. Hands like rainfall.
This is not what I imagined. A man and I
once kissed in his car
until we didn’t. Enough, he said,
pulling away. Was it my greed
or desire too big to hold?
Truth is I didn’t want a man. Really,
I want to feel all of me
realize what is, what is;
my body, in existence; enough.
Photograph of Jennifer Huang by Abigail Bereola.