Ancestor Poem


By Sophie Zhu

slice our skin with a lancet & paint graphite on your blood & utter the three last words i learned from you (wo ai ni) & curl my tongue so it spills as roaches onto your skin & leaves a third-degree burn that sizzles at the touch & ferment pain because you crossed our fingers together & melt glaciers beneath your long lashes.

dilute the irksome pools of cut organs at your feet, sweat tricking down the grooves of our palms.

the cardinal dropped off some salt to amend your laceration.

i didn’t imagine the detachment to be s­­o painless; the endomorphism,

the function to itself defined by an umbilical cord that direct

parents to parents and child to child. thank you, Noether.

tell me, is this not an uncanny endomorphism?

shoot an arrow whose tip will infiltrate the cheesecloth with my blood,

map my disarranged sh’s, ch’s, ue’s of distaste to a moment of satisfaction,

vacuum their brown pebbles and dangle them over a melting pot (aren’t they tired

from looking down so much…?)

tell me, must i ever crucify myself on rose thorns again?

inert of fear as daggers are sifting through hydrogen atoms

isn’t it still an endomorphism if i take torn canvases and strip them

dried oil paint they’re encrusted in?

he bruised me over his pristine work.

pluck each needle from their wound infections of critique:

pore or bullet, and thrash them into a jar of slimed eyes.

she said her lips are chapped and bleeding.

the trace of my eyelids: it’s red onion film

take that with rosy red, marigold yellow of the banner by the door,

and dwindle off to void.

ancestor, wo bao zheng ni i won’t leave you

(Note: In abstract algebra, a branch of mathematics, an endomorphism is a specific type of map from a type of set to itself. Its ‘creation’ is commonly attributed to Emmy Noether, a German mathematician. Moreover, wo ai ni means “I love you” in Chinese, “sh’s, ch’s, ue’s” are pinyin sounds, namely, the written form for which a Chinese character should be pronounced, and wo bao zheng ni means “I promise you.”)

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