my grandma feeds the cats

Angie Sijun Lou 


my grandma feeds the cats in the park even though they don't know who she is / she's blind so it's not like she knows who they are / either / you think she just goes up to them & is like / agesexlocation / i want to be the swampghost passing through her / or canned fish / & greasy palms / in the supermarket everything i touch / is for the first time / i buy a dragonfruit & grope it in the dark / when i swallow it clenches & unclenches / like a beating heart / in other words dying / lasts forever but feels like no time at all / in other words my grandma / speaks to voices in the television until her eyes sting / from the light / shoutout to my grandma squinting at things / like a white cat running through the trees / my suicide pact & belly of thorns / the taxi driver lugging / her sack of flesh / moon cavity sagging down her neck / shoutout to the ennui that comes after i spit / out the blackened seeds / from my latex mouth shoutout to / my cousin who thinks i should stop / eating flower petals & talking so loud / my mother says / 'letting 奶奶raise you is regret i take / to the grave' / inside her grave there is / a disinfected suburbia / the monotony of the sun / a porcelain toilet so i no longer piss / squatting in fields of orchids / & dust mote bones


my 奶 奶 covers the mirrors in her room cause she doesn't like being watched while she sleeps

Yesterday I drove my 奶奶in circles
through the village she
was born in to look
for her father's tomb. We
couldn't find it so
she burnt a roll of toilet paper
in a field of yellow flowers
& said that was good
enough. That night
I dreamt of yellow flowers,
drinking cough syrup
in a field of them, the stems
oil & blubber like
the flesh bags ripening
in her brain. I ate
the petals too, slurped
up the egg yolk
pollen, cause every
time I see my 奶奶's
face it's made of
the pixels & craters
on my computer
screen. You ever think
it's kind of fucked
what gets disappeared
& recorded, you ever
take your 奶 奶 's
medication to see
how it makes you
feel, you ever
freak out too.

Sometimes I freak out
& there is nothing
I can do. Baby
I want to be like
the grapefruit sun
bloodred in the sky. Or
the citrus in the cut
underneath my fingernail.
I am neither of those things
now because I am
a stupid girl. I was born
with two eyes, two ears,
& a daddy who gets
detained by the pigs every
time he crosses state
lines. They say
he looks like this
chink who disappeared
in 1997 but so do I.
Daddy. Daddy—I'm
sitting in a pool of
your failed adolescent
dreams. Daddy how come
you keep your dentures
behind a mirror with
my baby teeth. You
want to know what
language I dream in but
Daddy I don't dream
of tongues only
mouths. I dream of
the day 奶奶dies,
how I will bury her
in a field of yellow
flowers & no

In the intersubjective dream
journal I write about
a girl with no reflection. In the dark

Her black eye

SHE DIG thru the trash

Her dad says I MAKE
sacrifice for you

I LOVE you before you are born



I wrote these poems while thinking of my grandmother's mental illness and the fragmentation of the intergenerational dream journal. Because of the barriers that separate me from her - cultural, linguistic, and physical - she has been rendered a mythological figure to me. Since the ideation of suicide is strongly stigmatized in mainland China, a part of my goal was to break through that film of silence while still honoring my flesh lines.

The other theme I hoped to express is the policing of language, especially the unspoken surveillance of immigrant tongues. These poems are partially composed of broken English text messages my mother sends me.
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Angie Sijun Lou is a Chinese writer from Seattle. Her work has appeared / will appear in Ninth Letter, The Rumpus, Hobart, Cosmonauts Avenue, Metatron, Peach Mag, Nuori Voima, Voicemail Poems, Yes Poetry, and others. She was nominated for the 2016 Bettering American Poetry anthology and the Pushcart Prize. This fall she will begin a PhD program in Asian American Literature at UC Santa Cruz.