Asian American Translations, by Molly Zhu
Updated: Jul 14, 2021
I only know Power from the other side of my mother’s eyes
when she asks me, what does it mean, my only job
is to dress the slur in casual-wear: in gauze, in cotton,
something ephemeral like a dandelion seed
tell her, “nothing important”… then I tuck
the truth deep in my throat, stow it in my lungs
where I know it will bloom through my lips, on a bad day.
In the drugstore my fingers sprout into pliers, I uproot the splinters
that the store clerk flings, I pour a hot red lacquer
over my parents’ broken sentences, turn them into rubies.
Word-painting is my specialty now, and I try to feel something holy in
my calligraphy. The mornings are when I swallow
my optimism like a sugar pill—I tell myself to dream of beautiful things
until I peel back the rind of the earth, and I watch fathers
like my own knocked to the ground like overripe persimmons—
I wonder, what year is it this time?
Because the fruits feel eternal, glacier-ing in the sun,
oozing timeless juices from blistering soft skin,
and I am the child who witnesses this ache, who feels it in each lifetime that I live,
for what is a painful history, if not an old story holding hands with
a new story, holding hands with today, and with me
when I wear a blue medical mask like a sling over my mouth,
as I watch
and I watch
and I watch.
Molly Zhu is a new poet and she lives in Brooklyn, New York. For her day job, she is a corporate attorney and in her free time, she loves thinking about words and reading and eating. She has previously been published in the Rising Phoenix Review and the Ghost City Press. Her work is forthcoming in Uppagus.
Bobby Miller is a librarian and amateur photographer. He has work forthcoming in Atticus Review, Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, Journal of Erato, and Wrongdoing Magazine. His website is bobbymillerphoto.com. With his wife, Sandie Friedman, he publishes a project combining photography and flash fiction: sandiebobby.com.