every time a white commentator calls a chinese athlete a “robot”
you wire my mouth open. Jingle each bottom tooth. Unbuckle my calves. Serrate each bone. Thread metal through the bloodstream. Drain the thrash from my tongue. Deport the breath from my lungs. Breed every instinct out of my body. The one to fear heat. The one to crave meat. The one to run. It’s a gold rush, they say, and place the metal around my neck. Gold the color of empire. On TV, another body blued around the edges. On TV, another body disrobed to dust. Chairman Mao saying, to sweep away the dust you need a broom. Boys exchanging peasantries: name, province, rate of survival. Boys flatlining the water, bottoming the pool: eyes shut to commune with the dark inside their bodies. Headline: flesh factory. In the news: provincial goats learn to pause the knife by singing the national anthem. Horoscope: all look same. Tom Daley climbs the rungs of 邱波’s throat: carves the teeth to curbs, dives off. Tom Daley says: he’s a machine. 邱波 knows what rusts in water, what wears ruin as its skin. 邱波 finds a garden at the bottom of every pool, remembers to feed it the sweet sap of his bones. Tom Daley says: at least I have a life.
*邱波: the name of Tom Daley’s rival, Qiu Bo.
Kristin Chang is a queer girl living in California. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in fog machine, BOAAT Journal, Powder Keg, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Nailed, Luna Luna Mag, and elsewhere. She’s currently on staff at Winter Tangerine Review.