Mar/Apr 2020 • Vol. XLII No. 2 Poetry |

Playing Dead

The first time I was touched, parts of me were seen: the nautilus, the teeth, the cavern of mouth, how a question marks the spine and then it is never answered how his seeing became my seeing he surprised me his finger slipped into a barren — burrows a bare contusion I thought I was exposed but unbeknownst to me, most parts remained unseen and I was to retain this unseen feeling most of my life I’ve spent apart, not a part of any tribe or religion or posse most of my life I identified with animals like the possum searching for trash or playing dead After this thing was done to me I believed I played a part in it an actress finds a part so she could slip, finally, into another skin my parts, these parts I wrote the whole thing off, my feelings were leaves that bypassed everyone and buried me in autumn, my seams parted and all I did was write a poem — an ode to roadkill and a decade passed before I knew I didn’t give permission, the only thing I could c

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Sally Wen Mao is the author of Mad Honey Symposium (Alice James Books, 2014), the winner of the 2012 Kinereth Gensler Award and a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Pick of Fall 2014. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2013 and is forthcoming or published in Poetry, Black Warrior Review, Guernica, and Gulf Coast, among others. A Kundiman fellow, she holds a B.A. from Carnegie Mellon University and an M.F.A. from Cornell University, where she was a lecturer in creative writing and composition for three years. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and teaches in the Asian American Studies department at Hunter College.

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Ode to Egress

By Sally Wen Mao

The first time I was touched, parts of me were seen: the nautilus, the teeth, the cavern of mouth, how a question marks the spine and then it is never […]

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