you lose seeing the snow melt one last time.
lose your corner room in the gray cement building,
lose friends, lose childhood, lose new york, lose
him. you witness distance spreading
beyond distance. you learn
distance becomes distance by feeding
on your ability to see it. all it takes is one person
to give up. he takes the jewels of your irises
and says i don’t care. you try to starve,
but the dead brother inside your stomach
demands food. the grief
just won’t cut it.
isolation wraps around your neck like a lover.
would you leave, even if you could? where would you
go? two weeks later you are so yourself
it’s frightening. hope sinks
into your skin like light. at night,
sometimes, only sometimes, like a blade
scraping away gemstone fantasies. would you
leave, even if you could? where would you
go? your home
that was never your home bursts
into flame and you are at the beach for daddy’s birthday,
pretending your friends aren’t losing their fingers to gunfire.
you say be careful when you mean
i love you.
you say when they bring out the gas start running when you mean
i love you. you say don’t be a hero when you mean
i can’t lose you,
a man dies on camera. and across the pacific
an orchestra of coarse, frozen throats begins to remember
it still has a voice to speak with. a voice
stretching to silver lakes, casting the shape of the future.
maybe heaven births itself
from the mouths that mourn your absence.
maybe death is the only commonality
mankind can agree on.
a black man is murdered on camera,
and one of the officers wears your uncle’s face.
your uncle who boards the flight and does not return
till two years after nana gets lowered
into our motherland. he comforts himself
in a white man’s country, thinking
she wouldn’t have remembered me anyways.
the last thing nana called for was her son.
a girl who looks like you,
could have been you, is
you, bleeds in the street. they call her dirty chinese,
and it’s the first time in seven years you wished
you were white. your western home
threatens your eastern home
and you go to sleep wondering,
if you had to gouge one of your eyes out,
which would you choose? pray
for the rustle of autumn in clinton.
but normal is a hand with missing fingers,
the new family that never learned your name.
you know you can, someday might even,
for real this time, unashamed this time,
without fear this time,
love. but what good is that now?
Heidi Wong is a poet and artist who grew up between Beijing, Hong Kong, and New York. Since posting her poems online at 15-years-old, she has developed a unique voice that juxtaposes surreal and macabre imagery with intimate and beautiful language. She was the winner of the 2018 Button Poetry short form contest, and the winner of the National Art and Calligraphy Competition of China for 6 consecutive years. Now, she continues to share her work with her audience of nearly 1M followers. Her third collection, Turning to Wallpaper (Central Avenue,) will be released in the fall.