Session One Anthology
MENTOR: CHRISTOPHER SOTO
YELLOW FEVER IS A DISEASE & NOT A POINT OF PRIDE
Mother was wúyǔ, they say
I inherited her: nose, ears, lips.
Taut skin, jaundice colored. Men
mistake affliction for ingots; body
for conquest: gold,
glory, God. They say
they are sick
with yellow fever.
Tongue is divination stick,
licking salt runes into
my chest. Confused
mouth calls 悲1 love,
calls 草2 sex. Oceanic,
my chest is full of gunpowder.
I am swollen sea cleaving
self into ions.
Lysis, the body spliced
into multiples to feed
five thousand. All Asian girls
are made of the same: jade,
parasols, rice, stoicism. I want
my own Lucy Liu to split
open like flypaper. Call
my silence willingness
not protest. Call me
没有名称3 not beautiful.
Jasmine Cui is 17 and is majoring in Political Science, Economics, and Violin Performance at SUNY Geneseo. She aspires to be like her parents, who are first generation Americans and fought an extraordinary battle for their place in this country. Her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and has appeared in The Shallow Ends.
my sister slammed the door on my fingers so hard one
almost broke and mama whispered sorrys and
it will be okays so close to my hand that her breath picked
up a little of my blood that day I cried more than when daddy
left he went to America and said he will send for us soon he is
getting the house ready it’s a castle he says big doors and a
white fence with red balloons and a walkway and shiny wood
floors for me to practice my turns on mama said he flew on a
plane as big as our house and the neighbors put together I heard
sometimes people put drugs up their butts to get into America they
shove it right up and it hurts and sometimes they get sick and
sometimes the little white baggies explode in their stomachs mama
doesn’t know I know that sometimes I flick my fingernail and
remember her shushing into my finger I remember the pain being
a white flash and then gone I don’t even know why I cried cause
I stopped feeling it after a second maybe I don’t feel pain maybe
I could shove one of those baggies up and fly to America I could
dance on the wooden floors with daddy and I would turn so well
people would pay to watch and we could send for mama and
my sister the queen of England and all the presidents mama says
don’t like us would fly in to watch me spin across the wooden
floors like my toes were made of the same brown wood she can
turn so fast they’d say it’s like she is a bright white explosion
Nshira Turkson was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Springfield, Virginia. She is a Callaloo fellow and her work has appeared in The Atlantic and her university’s literary magazine, The Nassau Literary Review.