all things oriental
Trenton, Florida, USA
Bell High School
"This piece was previously published in Kissing Dynamite Poetry, May 2022"
on a gold-washed morning, my mother tells me about the
pearl & how it is torn from the flesh of the oyster’s
gaping mouth. yellow run through with red, an arrow, a soundless scream.
& what can be done with this hurt but carried around,
like an extra organ, a third lung?
she prays for a spoon in her mouth & all she gets is a knife
in the form of language, the syllables of this land cutting her mouth open.
she has been holding her breath for so long now
& i wonder if water remembers the shape of everything it touches.
if it remembers her skeletal hands, veins and sinew, forever reaching for
something better. this dawn-eroded land is just another promise
waiting to snap between her fingers. dust and splinters, nothing more.
but the end line is this: i am trying so hard not to become
another body beneath your blade, another life hallowed of varnish.
“all things oriental” is the rare sort of poem that manages to punch you deeper with each subsequent line. I found myself drawing breath at the twists from one clear, ornate image to the next, reading with wonder as the poem’s speaker slowly builds a presence in their harsh, culturally dissonant world. The poem’s razor-sharp descriptions of things both gorgeous and gutting will leave you aching for the happy ending that this “dawn-eroded land” of ours cannot give.
Vicki Lin 林诺曦 is a young Chinese American poet and writer from Florida. She has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Rider University, and the Live Poets Society of NJ. Her works are published in or are forthcoming in Kissing Dynamite, Eunoia Review, and elsewhere. In her free time, she's an avid stalker of her writer friends. She may be found on Instagram @_vickipedia_ .
ABOUT THE AUTHOR