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Yellow Fever

Dirty is yellow.

—Gertrude Stein

You are the kind of person who would frame a print of Hokusai’s

Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife and stroke the airplane

at night, imagining yourself as monster, tentacular

lady-killer. I am the eavesdropper sitting in your ear listening

to everything you whisper—I am smaller than milkweed bug,

and you can’t kill me. With the smugness of a man who has

just caught a trout, you say, I love those Asian women.

I will fuck you up with the spastic ember of a Puccini opera.

I know what you crave. It is larger than me. It is the pretty

face on the library book—the fallow field, the woman

with a comb in her hair, a grin about her like so many

hives. It is squalid peonies, murderous silk. It is febrile butterflies

and it is slave. It is shedding its clothes and it’s shredding your pants

and you are the thing in the plastic bidet. Don’t try to musk the malodor—

anyone can smell. You love the feel of socket on tongue? Strip

the pork rind. Shoot the waif. See that smile? Simulacrum.

Tiny waist in jade—you sweat, you slaver. What is this body

to you? Body you subsume—body you misconsume? To have

and to hurt—utter the word Orient, I dare you. She may spit

or she may nod. Who’s to say the hornbeam awakens to blight.

from Mad Honey SymposiumFind more by Sally Wen Mao at the library

Copyright © 2014 Sally Wen Mao
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Poems Sally Wen Mao

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.