& Yellow Woman heals
New York, NY
Hunter College High School
Yellow Woman was not yet a woman
when she spread herself open and scooped
her insides into a canopic jar. her hands were so gentle
she would often forget that she wasn’t born hollow.
Yellow Woman was still a girl
when she spread herself open and let white man fill her
like her body was a balloon, skin stretching
until the shape sharpened into something human.
white man conqueror built his empire
in Yellow Woman’s body, the outline of his hands
a shadow beneath her skin. benevolent colonizer,
pragmatic liar: you are safer this way.
no, you feel safer this way, white man conqueror,
so scared of Yellow Woman, how full she was without you.
no, Yellow Woman doesn’t feel safer this way.
she feels so empty she might float away.
Yellow Woman won’t let white man melt her
in his star-spangled pot where all colors turn gray.
Yellow Woman has a knife in her hand, she cuts
herself open again and lets the air escape.
Yellow Woman will not be civilized, because
Yellow Woman is no longer afraid to make white man afraid.
Yellow Woman spills untamed back into herself
Many people gloss over the horrors of imperialism and the journey to recover from the trauma it brings, but this poem doesn’t shy away from truth. Its simple language and tone tell the story like it is. It uniquely layers powerful extended metaphors and allusions, one upon another.
Serena Yang graduated from Hunter College High School (New York, NY) in 2019, and is now a freshman at Swarthmore College. Born in Singapore and raised in Queens, New York, she is a UVA Young Writers Workshop alum and a 2018-19 NYC Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR