Unbecoming By Emma Miao


It is 1966 and bodies throng the viscid streets.
Mao laughs on 736 million walls, eyes plastered

On the mantelpiece. I dance for him in the dappled sunlight,
Through filtered piano lullabies and red ribbons,

Powdered porcelain faces and cracked flesh.
But powder cannot last forever.

He’s flashing yellowed teeth as fires enflame
四旧 : photo albums, books, my ballet shoes.

The Yellow River’s running red with blood.
Street’s splashing, ichorous. I’m knee-high

In secrets of Mao and Mother’s ashes.
In dampened attics, I pray to God.

Look now: our husk is sheathed in bruises,
Sopping the bitter light. We’re huddled at

Hangzhou’s sprawling fingertips.
Close enough for the beast to caress.

By Emma Miao


Emma Miao is a high school sophomore from Vancouver. She was recently named a commended Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2019. Her work is forthcoming in Up the Staircase Quarterly and Sine Theta Magazine and is recognized by the Poetry Institute of Canada. She also holds an ARCT in piano performance.

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