Ahma, I’m sorry
for long walks into the ocean
& my knees ground in rush
hour traffic. It’s just that
my body is not a body
but regret
wrapped up in skin.
Papa’s anger is baby teeth
I’ll never grow out of.
Sometimes I want
sharp tools
to fix myself for good.

Ahma, you are
the most beautiful part
of my bad blood.
All you lived through
only left you kind.
I am the shadow of
every man
who has hurt
every woman
in this family.

Ahma, I wear
sadness like a birthright.
It is a method of survival.
I see his fists on every boy
with hands.
Only grief keeps me safe:
no one expects to touch
so much of it
and live.

By Natalie Wee


Natalie Wee is the author of Our Bodies & Other Fine Machines (Words Dance Publishing, 2016). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Drunken Boat, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Prairie Schooner, The Adroit Journal, and more. She has been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and two Pushcart Prizes.

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