my body is a thing / i love / misheard / it shatters / out of its own / shadow i was born
elsewhere clinging / to light / i must be / yellow / fevered into / my face / my country
outlaws my lips / knowing / exactly / who / i am / you / pretend you / do not hear
me / try anything / i would do / anything / i must / be / lucky / daughter you beg / out of her
blessings / echo of an echo / (yours) / sheds my ribs / beautiful / girls borrow / their tongues
from better planets / orbit me / soft / in the dark / i body / the wreck / of my body i sing
/ through these dreams / of hands / pressure / yes / i / queer / the motherlandscape / too
many eyes / for this ache / i would do anything / to see me / like you / see me / again
you named me / the wrong disease / 지 / 祉 / good fortune / to lead evil / away / from you
to me / i would do anything / i can read 泫 / me / back into my blood / 현 / breath smeared
over where / my bones / have been / better than / bones
I can’t speak. She turns back. It’s trauma. All over.
& yes she still explains my hands. Or not. I tell her,
please stop making me cry. She knows. It’s me. Responsible. Fine.
I’m lying. For love. A little more salt. Fine. I sit there
small, excavated. On the keys. All my heart. Some
of it. Fine. Ten fingers. No witness. I walk out.
Of my throat. Into the earth. What I’ll tell my parents
I don’t know. Fine. She hits me. I don’t cry. I have a talent.
I don’t. Three hours I practice falling open like a door.
She loves me. I promise. Stretch me over my mouth.
I’ve grown so much. I play it. Again. Ropes glued fast
to my shoulder blades. Pull them. She does.
I’m worthless. Blue, dislocated. I tell her
this story. & no I don’t believe me. She hurts.
It’s trauma. What do I tell my parents. I crumple. I burn.
Save me from nothing. It’s nothing. I know. She trained me.
Warmed me. My two gold hands. They fall off. I catch them.
Screw them back on. I use them. My teeth. I smile.
I’m not coming back. She screams. I wish. Piano lids
they are so heavy. God. She can’t see. That’s right.
I’m not safe. I am. I made this up. I taste. All my songs.
Pretty. I know it. I dream. In black. I tell me. You know
they get ivory by killing. Huge & beautiful things.
Invention of the Color Yellow
a girl is given a bullet and told to throw it / up when she’s ready // a girl is given a season &
nowhere / to empty it into // i can say whatever i want & this is somebody’s greatest fear // a girl is
given a lightbulb and told / her secrets one by one // she holds them / like toy knives // she puts
them away / in my gut // if they come out (and they will come out) / it’s me who’ll bleed to death
// my voice breaking / over diamonds // my voice / like water in a tiny waterfall // cities drowned
in paint / but only when the sun is down // a girl is given / back to her gods when they’ve run out
of worlds to end // i tell her what / -ever can be imagined can be killed // which is why you are
unimaginable // which is why i sit here holding your skin / so you can’t put it on // a girl is given a
reason / not to run // a girl is given feathers & hot glue // the girl is very smart (we were counting
on that) & the only thing she hates / more than her hands / is putting them where no one can see
// i tell her pick them up / make them useful / make them pretty enough to eat / put them in my
mouth so i can starve // looking more like me
Christina Im is a Korean American writer and undergraduate student at Princeton University. A 2018 finalist for Best of the Net, she has been recognized for her work by the National YoungArts Foundation, the Adroit Prize for Poetry, Hollins University, Bennington College, and the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Her poem "Meanwhile in America" was selected by Natalie Diaz for inclusion in Best New Poets 2017.