Two Poems by Yuxi Lin

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Form & Body

It seemed important then, what one gives
& is given. I measured each man as he stepped 

on my life then off — the scale shook
its head. My first love 

at eighteen, the gold room, backs
sleek from dancing,

cheek against his wet hair, long finger
in my blue underwear.  

I knew why he refused to tell others
we belonged together —

That time we saw a friend at the café
he stiffened & let go of my hand 

the way a fisherman returns
a bad catch to the ocean.

How is it that I continued to love him
more than I ever loved myself,

wanted to be eaten, be diminished
in his mouth, left the door open should he come 

at the hour of want & be grateful for the weight
on the other side of the bed.

I’ve often wondered why couplets
are the loneliest form, one line 

lying on top of another, not touching —
Open, the eternal space between bodies.

In the morning I’d find
the door still ajar —


The Water Hour  

when I was eight
            my father said, swim

                                                                       in the part of the pool where
                                                                                  toes didn't touch the bottom

                       I kicked and cried out to his blurry figure
                                  to save me

                       dying was more beautiful than I'd imagined

                                                                                  it was blue, all blue  
                                                                                             a fire in the skull

my hands couldn’t reach the sides
                                 of that massive coffin

surely, floating would be easy
                        for a more graceful body

                                                         my father used to joke that I was lucky
                                                                     not to be born to a farm family 

                                                         where fathers drowned penis-less babies
                                                                     in buckets

when I stopped struggling
            he hooked an arm below mine 

                                                         & my lips broke the surface
                                                                    for a searing gasp  
he considered my bloodshot eyes
            & let me go

                                                          somewhere deep in the earth
                                                                    millions of girls are sprouting fins

Photo of Yuxi Lin

Photo of Yuxi Lin

Yuxi Lin is a Chinese American poet and winner of the Breakout 8 Writers Prize. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Washington Post, Spilled Milk, Cosmonauts Avenue, Epiphany, The Electric Literature, The Southern Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. She is an MFA candidate at New York University, where she received the Lillian Vernon Fellowship.