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I ate myself out of womb, slurped
my umbilical cord like a noodle.
I was born barren
bottomed like a bowl, so hollow I held
a week’s worth of rain to spend on
trees, dead things. Mother wore her stillborns
like a string wears beads: fetal heads
the color & size of cocktail onions.
I imagined sucking them
one by one. I spent all
my pennies on jawbreakers,
thought the red flavor was blood
until I bled. My mother
grieved each child longer
than it lived in her.
When I was born, my father
said he was coming
inside another man’s
wife. A waitress at his restaurant, she
wrapped spring rolls so tight they birthed
lettuce, beefbits, jicama.
My father the frycook, his father
the same. Their hands so oiled
everything they touched
flamed. Like Midas if Midas
loved fire not gold. My mother burned
out years ago. My brother’s still
kindling, his girlfriends all
white & the same type
of arson. When I was born
my father came
like he wanted me. I ate his sex
euphemisms: oven loading, pie
holing, a watched pot is like
a watched woman: never coming
to a boil. In every mirror, I am a double
ended wick. A match to my mouth
& ass. No smoke without a fire
to feed. No daughter
without a dad to knead, to beat
into batter & fry
gold with my touch.

 


“Midas” excerpted from Past Lives, Future Bodies by Kristin Chang, published by Black Lawrence Press. Copyright Kristin Chang 2018. Published with permission.

Kristin Chang ’s work has been published in Teen Vogue, The Rumpus, The Margins (Asian American Writers Workshop), the Shade Journal, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for Best New Poets and Best of the Net, and she has been anthologized in Bettering American Poetry Vol. 3 and Ink Knows No Borders (Seven Stories Press). She is a 2018 Gregory Djanikian Scholar (selected by The Adroit Journal), the recipient of a 2019 Pushcart Prize, and a Resist/Recycle/Regenerate fellow with the Wing On Wo Project in Manhattan Chinatown. Past Lives, Future Bodies is her first chapbook.

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