for the millions of AIDS victims silenced in Henan
a wind blows here.
in the fields/uprooted catacombs.
the smell of scattered incense. from decades ago
mingles as echoes with the rice.
once, in this heartland, your own blood
turned. against you. flooded. the flesh:
from your bones. plucked. the hairs:
from your head. because you were once. giver.
you became the very thing you sacrificed =
plasma. lost between solid-bones: liquid-blood.
for sixty kuai you gave. yourself to the wind.
transubstantiated. into the blood, let
for a country that orphaned you.
did you sing? donate your melody?
when the earth became pregnant. with your fluids.
you: a million fragments. only made whole
as a mass grave; did you whistle?
when your veins/ emptied. when your country/ ripped.
you from the soil. you: immortal. metastasizing
your chorus. that bleeds in the breeze. so we may never forget.
a second wind blows here.
like spirits, coagulating.
Mother used to argue with God in Mandarin,
bring Him to His knees with the fury
of an empress denied her dowry,
flay the holy from His skin
because He was the only Father
she could plead with.
I watched her from my bedroom,
wondering what sin
father had committed.
Later, sex was exorcism.
My lover and I would watch the color leave my body
as smoke, creeping out from the sheets and murmuring
of war brides and Loving as it left the bed.
I would watch the space above her head
fill with the fog of things unsaid.
We were silent when we could be,
the way sinners in communion listen quietly
After I left her, I crafted theories
about what our child would have been:
a split child, born with a caul.
I imagined the child to be a Tower of Babel, the breaking
of ancestral lines and gods, birthing a final sacrilege.
Evan Yi is a junior at Davidson College with a double major in Asian-American Studies and Africana Studies. He is a second-generation Chinese-American born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. Most recently, he was a member of the BreatheInk team which reached the semifinals of the 2016 Brave New Voices international slam. This year will also be his third year competing with Davidson College in the College Union Poetry Slam Invitationa