© XI 2019 

Child of Chinese immigrants,

how i innately express love is through food and the hard-to-swallow.

 

my first memory of experiencing another’s love

was warmth in the arid windswept steppe of Inner Mongolia

at the hands and labors of my grandmother,

whom made every meal I ate from the time i could ingest solids

Until grade school and my ultimate return-shipment to the US.

 

Every context I’ve heard the word “love”

uttered in object reference to me,

I’m frightened, as if couriered instead by aberrant connections, the

knee-jerk reflexes of pain, mutually assured, at the defeat of my personal battle with inadequacy
—input unregistrable when sharing someone’s warmth

 

fatalist residues, to seek

the end as things begin

 

with you, old pathways are disrupted,

the ease, the security is the most disarming thing

Am i perhaps waiting for the other shoe to drop?

 

Clap of the sole, spoon ridge in brief lodge against skull,

Flung from striking distance,

the dizzy shower afterward, as i watched

myself pooling between my toe webs, diluted spirals in vibrant

last dance down the drain.

I didn’t even expect my mother to pantomime an apology

In our household, there was no threshold too far to cross out of love.

Crimson is the color of love. crimson is the color from deep within.

If you instill in a child the Pavlovian association of pain with care,

of cutting criticism with loving investment, of deeper connection wrought
through violent ends—does she sprout a scythe for a tongue and claws to caress with?

does she die alone or does she perpetuate—a cyclic, sadomasochistic Sisyphus


// self-fulfilling prophecy