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iceberg / beautiful

CAS for Database

Yun-Fei Wang

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei Fuhsing Private School


under my blackened Mandarin tongue there is a phrase bing shan mei ren

which translates to iceberg-beautiful-person that means

a-woman-who-is-beautiful-but-cold that means

your-half-lipstick-smiles-left-me-bruised & black-heels-wishing-for-more.

& when the hallway crowned you with the name iceberg-beautiful-person

the punchline was on the word bing meaning cold that means

someone else had a crush on you at the same time and when the whole school

likes the same person it’s like Evergiven at Suez Canal last winter & that means

it hurts like an open wound torn apart in the cold, a bandaid make of skin

i only liked my narrow eyes because you had them too. iceberg-beautiful-person means

you-cried-during-our-graduation-party so i made a joke about climate change.

borealis gaze smeared over him as you laughed in a ghost’s voice and

i dream of frostbites on my white splitted tongue that means

you are the child of Persephone and Hades before the industrial revolution,

before Prometheus had stolen fire and paid with liver. my mind

screams the words global warming and i fear that one day you’d realize

to call you an iceberg-beautiful-person is my subtle bleed from your winter-moon beauty,

scars faint as the arctic sun on your October birthday. that means

i remember things about you that i don’t about myself

tongue-twisted & you had the prettiest Mandarin accent. iceberg-beautiful-person means

there is a phrase to encapsulate your divinity but it is not for my throat. that means

femininity is pre-inked in the word mei meaning beautiful that means

i would’ve liked you either way because my elementary teachers never said

girls should not like beautiful things. but god, sometimes even i swallow window shutters

to the cologne of men who carve their names into the side of icebergs. in my head

i gut myself with icicles & stain the sierra streams & let wounds freeze over. that means

i would have boarded the Titanic knowing why it fell to its knees. that means

i took AP Bio in my sophomore year learning to extract iron from my blood

welded into a sword-shaped ship and sailed into the heart of yours

in the end i think all means is that one early morning, late winter

the whole street gleamed aglow because you were there. that means

i wasn’t lying when i said the whole school liked you

& i was just another ship built to sink. that means

hell froze over when you touched me in front of that plastic door that means

a door is no longer a door on winter solstice when the only barricades

is bodily heat and the lack thereof. that means: i weighed an ice cube

under my tongue and pretended we would last

like the Chinese folklore of chang-e and leng-gong

until that morning when the sun arise and i no longer go back to you.


The cold has never felt so searing before this poem. Reading through the stanzas of “iceberg / beautiful,” each one as swift and fleeting as a tide, you can feel the speaker’s desperate lovesickness rush into you and past you like a blizzard. This piece does a powerful job of drawing from many different scenes, ideas, and snippets of popular culture while retaining a crushing intimacy with its subject, creating a swirl of emotions you’ll hurt from but won’t want to forget.

Yun-Fei Wang is a high school student from Taiwan and an incoming freshman at Wellesley College. She has been recognized by the John Locke Institute, Polyphony Lit, Bow Seat, and more.


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