Wearing My Chinese Name

— Christina Wang

after Shira Erlichman

Instead of teaching you how to say 我爱你,

I’ll don my Chinese name. I’ll drape
myself in the ​mélange​ of 王书瑶

no, not , as in ​Is it Wang or Wong​? Not ,

because despite all the living, let me not forget
how to be soft-bodied. I want the ,

as in filing the Title IX report, no matter

the years that have elapsed.
As in my father’s steadfast belief in God,

despite the overhead silence & the evolving

reasons to quit. As in, I’ll hold myself
at night if I have to. Oh, & how I adore

the perfume of , the mist

of words my parents threaded
into my name.

I, too, want to linger

in space. It was the 东风,
the wind billowing from the motherland, that insisted

I smell the air. The salt of the Dalian sea​ ​wrinkling

my mother’s toes.
Ginger & garlic at every meal to cleanse

the body, to find the . But I can’t leave

the house without . The Chinese superhero cape.

My not-so-secret

secret power. Don’t you forget the

rooted within it. as in the resplendence
of mother-of-pearl. I want to see

my parents holding me in the hospital, small

& devastating,​ ​convinced

that I knew how to produce
my own shelter. because

how do I teach you to possess this faith?

I want not for merely reflecting
the light, but , as in, let me embody

this whole skeleton.


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