My Sister Plucks The Hair Above My Upper Lip by Carlina Duan

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


with tweezers. black hairs sigh. she
splits the roots. my skin real
pink, smarting now but I’m cool
with loss. crouching before mirror we
bargain with what’s left—
skin            shine. I’m school
bell, brass bell. alarm, alarm. we
are chinese & let it lurk,
or pluck. every day a late
pass to the joke, or reminder we
got doors beneath tongue. 段, 段, strike
gold when you say our last name. straight
up mandarin. straight up kitchen sink. we
scrub chinese out but it grows back     in. sing
alphabets & curly letters to forget but sin
sharpens shame. we erase what little honey we
have til our mouths turn thin
in lamplight. our ancestors took gin
& made things with their hands. we
broke apart what they gave us, jazz
on their upper-lips in june,
in winter. moustaches & fists. we
refused lineage, left hair         to die
in the sink, whispering we’ll come back come back soon


Photo of Carlina Duan hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in The Margins, Poemeleon, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her first full-length poetry collection, I WORE MY BLACKEST HAIR, is forthcoming from Little A in November 2017.

Photo of Carlina Duan hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in The Margins, Poemeleon, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her first full-length poetry collection, I WORE MY BLACKEST HAIR, is forthcoming from Little A in November 2017.

Carlina Duan hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in The Margins, Poemeleon, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her first full-length poetry collection, I WORE MY BLACKEST HAIR, is forthcoming from Little A in November 2017.