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& Yellow Woman heals

Serena Yang

New York, NY

Hunter College High School


CAS for Database

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

& heals.


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.


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