Emily Yin

What Mothers Know

How you cried in the shower
over the dead dog
you never loved. What
you did to your stuffed toys.
The report cards you hid
in A Wrinkle in Time.
The browser history
you didn’t know to clear.
The way you still sleep,
mid-snow angel, with your hands
upraised; apply sunscreen
like rouge, dab by
dab; score me
with the serrated
edge of your words, just
as I taught you,
making shallow cuts
into the bread dough
with a cruel precision.
I didn’t teach you
the right things. You grew up
to be hard but not strong.
Abandoned your best dresses,
the plant you named
Horace, the girls
with whom you made
your childhood,
everything too precious
to keep.



I Wish I Could Shake off My Sadness

The way a wet dog does the rain on his pelt. I want a love
like the guy who pedaled his bike in slow motion
to match his companion’s walking speed. I never did learn
how to slow myself down, and the words clattered
into each other like dominoes when I needed them most.
So fine, I won't talk. They always say baby tell me
what you’re thinking, you've got all these
degrees of silence, baby be more transparent, but I won't,
or you might see right through me, and you’re pressing
your hand harder into my face, now, my head
sinking into the pillow your other hand on my neck
and I’m not afraid, no, somewhere a five-year-old kid is
unscrewing a Barbie’s head and somewhere
you make me make me make me wanna cry
and we’re playing pretend as The Office flickers across
your television screen. My therapist used to give me
blue dots to stick on my hand, my walls, my desktop lamp.
I never could explain to her, instructing me to
breathe, pretend there’s a beach ball expanding
against your chest
that I dropped the ball, that I can
throw darts all night long without a single one hitting the target,
that I lied, I never even tried, that their eyes cut me open
for all to see, and no, don’t ask me who I mean by they.
I could tell her the story of the four-windowed room
and my coat on the ceiling hook, and the fan humming
all winter long, because its owner could never sleep
without the white noise, without the white noise that was me.



Emily Yin studies computer science and poetry at Princeton University. Her writing has been recognized by the UK Poetry Society and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. Her work is published in the Indiana Review Online, Rust + Moth, decomP magazinE, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and The Margins, among others. Find her online at admeliora.github.io and on Twitter @emilyyin16.