killing of a sacred girl



her father didn’t know how large

the trunk was, didn’t know i was

praying at church, running antler-

hallowed words through grain.

her father dressed her in

albino thorns,

waiting for her by the star-rusted car,

by the lithium-capped grass.

i baptised her in

cockroaches & deodorant,

then found her skin

peeling from the backyard fence.

her father couldn’t have suspected

himself. all he knew was

her snowy knees melting to

dawn on the tongue.

her mouth, amaranth-moaning

meadow, sagging unholy.

orpheus in pekin



and he traversed the violet belly

of the night market, past the chestnut-dark hawker, splintered


wood handcart laid out with nectarines, bleeding

debt, her hawthorn-burled hands abrading rusted copper coins


nervously, nervously, sickly visions of shinbone dinners,

lead-glazed eyes clouded with the hungers of the coming dawn;


past buckets, pails, snake’s cradle of plafond knots, time told

in the ticking of the water beetles, in their hunger, their rot; past


the mist of steamers, her hair mountain-black rising from bamboo

forests, half-moons of sesame oil greased under her fingernails,


phoenix cry for salted duck eggs, for century eggs, for eternity

shimmeringly blurred to death; past the beggar, squatting


on her haunches, mouth an injured fan folding and unfolding,

murmuring her one name inscribed in salted characters, lampblack,


iron hooks, ox glue, poet of her own existence, her words her axe

to the goose leg of memory, to the sixth toe of certainty; past


the weaver threading omens, amnesias of heaven, writhing

blanket luring the fanged moon to bring its sudden symmetry


of light; past jars, drawers, of cinnabar, monkshood root, dream-

haunted cures, immortality’s silver hooves kicking up


dust; past the plum-shade of the tea house, her death-rusted

lamp burning softly, softly on sweet magpies, pruned cypress,


she watching him, silken gaze cool on the back of his neck—

Lydia Wei is a Chinese-American writer from Gaithersburg, Maryland. She has been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, and the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Her work is published or forthcoming in harana poetry, Sine Theta, Polyphony Lit, and more. During her free time, Lydia enjoys making blueberry biscuits and going for very long walks.