the first of its kind,
or the eye of a stitch
stretching across the sides,
a body prostrate beneath a desert sky,
begging for a wrist of light.
I languish beneath Warburton’s night-sky,
untouched by light,
learning how an expanse is another space
a body has shunned,
the body made to abandon/
its space/ a silence
before gliding over
the fricatives of a name.
When I was 8, in a class
that looked nothing like me,
I spoke in hushed tones to sand
down the mountains of phonemes.
Before 慧田 became Winnie and
丽英 became Lily,
there was night, and a body that sought
white and christened it
a luminous flux.
I came to learn that our names were all expanse,
2717 miles and the length of an umbilical cord.
When I was 10, my teacher told me to
stop writing my name in alien letters
no one could understand. I didn’t tell him
I once looked through each character
and saw the river home.
Yet, each breath of vowels
has taken me further from headwaters,
when I turned my back and headed
out to sea.
When I was 15, I bleached the womb
that had no memory of me.
To become a body
unmoored and longing,
To become a promise made
in a language I had barely begun to speak.
stopping in the sand to call my old name
I make a wish, and pull it
till it snaps like charred bones.