Portrait of Fortune

by Sheila Huang

i never learned how to see my body as my own.
you kept your stone fingers over my eyes while mine
traced bitter melon bumps as though they were braille.
you built a home out of the parts of me that you stole—
an erasure so thorough i almost forgot my only self.

i am made from humidity and sweat
pouring from a forehead flatter than wide noodles,
covered by hair like dirt rivers, and skin like ginger tea
heat drips from my eyes black as fish eyes sold in the summer heat,
down my steamed pork bun cheeks to my lychee lips covering rice wine teeth
that clink from harsh dialects spoken through trees of willow and wind.

when i drink, my skin glows communist red.
when i laugh, my mouth carves small circles in jade.
i store peonies in my chest like two blooming nipples,
i have limbs of bamboo bones crudely put together,
and when i cry, i bear fruit ripe for mid-autumn harvest.

forged from fire, water, earth, wood, and metal,
i am malleable gold—you cannot break me anymore.

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