Postcolonial by K-Ming Chang

(for Yilan)


here the sun stinks like stillbirth
& the sky is a stab wound, a gutspill
of light. the body’s largest
internal organ

is not the heart
but the stomach. my mother
learned this in two years
of famine. when the flood

ran past her door, she chose
to save the sack of rice
& not the girl clasping it
to float. she ate her own

tongue, chose swallowing
over speech. children in her village
were born with their mouths open
-firing. I load my throat

with gunpowder
& mother strikes me
like a match. while I sleep
she hot-glues

my knees together & tells me
every man is a bomb
the radius of your birth
country. silence is a mouth

firing holes into
my first language. on the shore
she gave birth, a Japanese soldier
stabled her with his horse. carved

teeth into dice. if they landed even
  a woman was shot. odd
& rape instead. sometimes
death can wait for a man

to open his pants. sometimes
the soldier bangs her
like a door
& the body answering
from inside
her body is my body.

Contributor Notes

K-Ming Chang is a Kundiman fellow. Her poetry has been anthologized in Ink Knows No Borders, Best New Poets 2018, Bettering American Poetry Vol. 3, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. She is a Lambda Literary Award finalist in Lesbian Poetry. She lives in New York.