wai po says the young are bad-tempered
& everyone is flawed in some way. I tell her
I am not saying what I mean.
When she asks me pei wo ba & I drop
my shoulders, I mean I am too busy
to feel bad.
Too busy to wake
to the sound
of icepick heels & my aunt’s arrogant,
wai po bent over, wringing
oolong into a basin of swirling grime.
The backs of her hands bloated
with belly scars. Someone screams
something about deathwork
& apathy & I pretend I don't hear
it or I don't know who it is. I don't know
who it is. The problem is
wai po only knows how to speak
in echoes. Her words lost & puddling
beneath her tongue.
I have only seen
touch gentle things:
tug through my cousin's hair,
tuck circles of apricot
flour into bao zi,
stack them lightly
upon the kitchen counter, the skin
still sticky & hot. She lets me believe
she is too happy
to have suffered. I have only noticed
She sits inside the alcove
on the first floor each evening
& waits for the sky
Bessie Huang is seventeen years old, hails from Maryland, sits exclusively in lotus pose, and prefers to go by Ivy, at least for now.