After the quake I gather my remains:
bloody pulp, girl-child, torn Sunday dress
gathered at the knees. I am again
floated white belly-up in the creak
of a bed, its low moans like humming flies,
the warm dark pulpit of another man’s breath.
Yours so familiar in its caress. Not everyone
is that man, you say. Or that. Or those, which,
as boys, pressed their palms to my pink skin
as I learned to accept every hunger
but my own. But your hands, their hardness,
collapses me in prayer, accordion-folds
my spine. If God exists, may He allow me
to yearn this once. Inside your mouth,
let me not think of my breasts rounding to glass
or stone. Let me believe in my skin & its softness,
sharpened to light. Let me believe, this once,
in the warm lurch of your body into mine.
the clouds hang low / tonight & again I am / orphaned by the dark / & the gaze / of every man who refused me / as daughter / I write / myself a mother / with hands as soft / as peaches / her voice / the lilt / of water trickling / from a gourd / she warns / her dear girl / of all the ways a sky / can swallow / & a pavement / can fissure / & fault lines / can grow / across a woman’s face / like every disaster / my mother says / that maybe a man / can truly love / but only if / your lips / remind him / of the sweet rim of a bottle / if you can / round your hips to boats / in the evenings / & dry them / in the sun / my mother says / that women are like the moon / powerful / only in drawing wolves close / the waves of their pleasure / rushing to shore / against / the salt stretch / of our bellies / my mother says / women are only powerful / when they round themselves / into the moon / when they round themselves / yellow & holy / when they round themselves / into prayers / brilliant pieces / of thankless gold—
Enshia Li is sophomore majoring in English Literature at Stanford University. She is from Toronto and a few other places. Previously, her writing has been recognized by the Adroit Journal, the Claremont Review, and the Poetry Society of the UK.