Lotus Flower Kingdom

after Ren Hang

Sunday catch. I do the honors. I harvest the lily pads.

The lily pads exploding like funguses. They break the surface tension.

Between your breasts. Redswim and gunblot.

Outside the soldiers shoot swans up against glass.

Hands up. Hot resin. Let the windows petrify their shape into permanence.

I clean the shit blemished at the bottom of the Dim Sum fish tank.

I am paid in fox-thieved pulses. I tempt life to lust after me.

A daughter is best described not as the object

of desire but the verb. The kingdom has a capital

punishment worse than death. Pelted bones. When the body is bludgeoned

to nothing but its desires. Organs crying cellophane. The Dim Sum ladies

gossip about my father. Call him a public menace. Made of the sport

of swans. Verdant tongue. He was found dead in a fish tank. Unbearable

lotus flower, he would say, sopping in shit, we are not so lucky

this time. The first time I loved someone. I thought I was ready to die.

Hours piling on hours. I swallowed. Ginkgo leaves. Bit the heads

off orchids. Monkey face. Moth. Boat flower. Traded nipples for pistils.

Violets to violence to violence. I dreamt of threading my spine through the eye

of a storm. My hands thunderstruck into salute.

When I woke I had already been playing dead for so long

I became a kingdom of flowers and a kingdom of fangs.

I jester. I the king of my own perfect crime. I flower to no end.

—Stephanie Chang (The Adroit Journal)