Nora Hikari

Store Bought Is Fine

At the Vons check-out line
I literally place a vial of exogenous
nail polish on the conveyor belt
alongside a packet of tattooing needles.

The homegrown woman behind the counter
has already decided that what I have brought
out to her is a kind of sin. We are both lucky
that a confession booth sentinels
by the exit vestibule of the grocer,
next to the candy-lighted claw machine
and the Ozymandian RedBox. Forgive me Father,

for I have sinned. I was raised Lutheran,
not Catholic, but I've watched enough
serial television to know the rotary
articulation well enough to pass, as usual.

The pharmacist behind the wooden screen asks me
why I have decided to purchase autostigmata.
Confessing to her is easy; lying is the only thing
that takes a passing guide nowadays.
Forgive me Father but I was born unmarked;
I was born with a smooth side and empty hands.

What I mean is that I was actually born
unwounded, regrettably, and I have been
catching up my whole life. I say again
Forgive me, Father,
for I don't know what else to do. I see
all these women with their dimpled palms
and pouring sides and I think about the sin
of coveting that which is my neighbor’s.

Perhaps coveting is my intrinsic sin,
in the way that the intrinsic sin of humans
is longing, or the intrinsic sin of matter
is gravity. I say Father forgive me,
I want things I cannot make
in my own home. I covet a natural thing
in the way that a lost balloon covets
the upper firmament. I wish I could tell you
what she says but I have already covered my ears
with weeping. I wish she would say she loves
me, of course, but I also wish she would invite me home.
I wish she would say: you already have
everything you need.

I know you are everything
that you say that you are.



Nora Hikari (she/her) is an Asian American transgender poet and artist based in Philadelphia. Her work is published or forthcoming in Ploughshares, The Shade Journal, Palette Poetry, Gulf Coast, The Journal, and others. Her chapbook, GIRL 2.0, was a Robin Becker Series winner and is available at Seven Kitchens Press. She was a finalist for the 2021 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, and can be found at her website