namestamp: a partial chinese-english dictionary
by Nancy Huang
黄- n. yellow; the way sun filters through dust; the way a river flows through silt; commonly
mispronounced as “huh-wAng” by american teachers, white classmates, and immigration officers; a
practice in symmetry; a body of water in china that calls my name back to me.
洁- adj. clean, pure; a wave of white; the way my skin looked when i was born, chalk and paste;
my mother said “look how 洁 her skin is. look at it.”; identifier, the way words can seep out of
the imagination—can be born out of the body, screaming.
南- n. south, southern; liquid heat; can apply to the smog mountains of fuzhou—tilting up your
head, realizing why china is called sky country; back in shanghai the metropolis is melting
outside, buildings steaming and sautéed, dripping with juice; the storm floods the streets and
seeps under the doors.
西- n. west, western; a fabrication; regimen, risk; in a dream my grandparents told me never to
come back; like china was a place instead of my body, my mother’s, our throats raised in
supplication; something forbidden and secret; outside the storm is implacable, torrential
downpour and screaming winds with a calm, quiet center.