Star Sings Her Lament
by Crystal Yeung
Please, eat as much as you’d like.
We don’t need motivation.
A good girl isn’t me
so what is a fellow daughter
than bodies between my excessed hips
to cloud the ceiling with sex,
weather & compression,
to spread a meal I can gorge on.
Every body is willing prey in my hands,
mild-mannered curds crumbled
under a pressured spoon,
a recipe more devout than breakfast
that my private body contributes
to every living body,
undressed between bamboo bed boards.
Yesterday I held a man’s bright pulse
in my sweaty hand,
the gelatin unhurriedly swallowed;
tonight, syruped black bean eyes gobbled up
my damp dessert with her iris & teeth:
woman & man served in one vessel,
mortar & pestle grounded to hunger.
Hallowed are the hulls in the moons of daughter’s nails,
hallowed are their pores locked in milk smell.
Every lover opens my ribcage like a cupboard
to find the heart’s maple vein.
Bak Bak’s ears are heavy hung with empress gold,
drooping tangerines from ends of white hair
into a young Brooklyn river.
Her years are lacquered in salt, my Bak Bak.
She hoards lovingly, tang & spice,
chili & tendon, soft-boiled eggs
over rice in a crushed styrofoam box that
she waits with every 3:45 school day.
Such a mystery, those ivoried sticks
marrowed out by years. In this act,
inheritance & survival are in a bowl
pushed into a pitless stomach,
a tree pushing roots to break concrete,
& a young mouth opening its sky to the cloven fruit.
I was born from mud & water,
this skin mapped by ancestral
blood & flooded earth.
I am plum-puckered & sunwarmed
bones, as my mother had brewed me,
a congealing star in her bright
luminous hands sending caravans
of hungry men constellating
through the atmosphere. The hearth is
the only lucence fed by pine needles
keeping the wild out. She snaps them |
bird-like, without hesitation, wings unfurling
not from death but discipline,
She carves these cheekbones with
spoons, gorges of ivory so deep and full we can
wax another eclipse. I dance not stumble into
this love, luxuriant and careful, to kiss the feet of
godhood that’s so blood close.
A Butterfly Unwilling
If bodies ever
lift from rooms,
a peeled cranium
to offer a pink sack
to the sky,
we would see the actual smallness
of kings or how fire
can sometimes feel cold.
Often in my loneliness,
I am accompanied by
eking out from the eyes,
every version of me
praying to a god
sleeping in the ceiling,
during the day’s
sweat breaking surface pores.
I wonder how I’m fated,
how goddesses sit by machines
cranking out stories for us,
or how Ban Zhao smiles on me
because I’m thunderstruck
with greatness at youth,
dodging Death like
Ali dodging beestings,
because the reaper’s bell is a torch
I refuse to hear.
The only song is survival
of my clanswomen’s blood:
generations to get here,
two hundred bowls of
simmering soups swallowed to get further.
Couldn’t we eat the world,
dig into the pistil of the earth?
Couldn’t we be
a god’s handful of
unwilling to die in the winter?
Crystal Yeung is a poet with an MFA in Poetry from the College of New Rochelle. She holds a BA in English literature and was a part of the CCNY Language & Literacy MA program. Her writing is published or forthcoming in Rabbit Catastrophe Review, Poets & Writers, Perigee, and descant. She is a recipient of Poets & Writers Amy Award, serves as committee member for the PEN Prison Writing Program, and is Reviews Editor for Apogee Journal.