Yong-Yu Huang is a writer based in Illinois, but she is originally from Taiwan and Malaysia. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Waxwing, Frontier Poetry, and Passages North, among others. She has been recognized by various institutions, including Princeton University, The Kenyon Review, and the Poetry Society of the UK, and the Hippocrates Society. She is the recipient of the 2021 Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize and has been included in Best Small Fictions. She attends Northwestern University.
In spring, the last bite of the cold front
and the air it misplaced. Bouquets of lilies
spill into spare rooms, color leeching faster
than expected. The doctor says there’s a bulb
in my throat, like a hand curling, curdled milk.
Why is everything slouching closer
to my heart? I blame it on bad weather,
stare at rooftops breaching the dim night.
Outside, the windows I wanted
to confuse, to leave out to dry
like a switch from the willow we stripped
in the dark: a mutiny
or a baptism. Bared savage, the fabric
I washed in poor faith. I didn’t know
where I wanted to go. Only that I wanted
to vault the fence, over the cobbled eyes
and their unwavering irises. With all the birds
gone south, I swallow anything falling
from the sky. Just like how I was taught:
trading old addresses for the tender bloat
of the moon. Darkened fields where I learn
that any vulnerable body is always on fire:
the pale hair of a star, as savage and bright
as the tooth in a dog's tight mouth.
I thought its growth a kindred spirit.
But it was your fault: why else
would the windows shift gray
and then blue? Mourning shades for the
heart I plucked from my mouth. Overripe
and sallow to the eye. Your face slackened,
then missing. The weight of it slotting into me
like a bouquet, fresh from the hothouse.
Today, I am remembering how we stared
at the moon on the last night
you were home. I wanted to push
myself into its orbit: a bleached coin
in gutter water. Back then, I knew
where I was looking.