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
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.