I interrupt a selfie in Guilin By Alison Zheng

I interrupt a selfie in Guilin

I interrupt a selfie in Guilin, northwest of
Guangzhou, east of Eden.

The tourist yells at me in Mandarin, but it’s too
late. My jacket sticks out like a

Red Guard arm band in the back of her
photos. I wade around but

everyone else is doing the same thing as
her: hopelessly trying

to take a picture that doesn’t include the
crowd. I give up, and

watch the fog roll through the hills that
looked unlike any hills I had seen before.

My tour guide says they’re special because
they can be whatever you want them to be:

a cat’s ears, a camel’s hump, even 20 RMB.

When Sappho looks at the hills, she sees
Aphrodite. When I look, I see everything else.

The cormorant’s chained neck, the crown of my
dad’s head when they arrested him,

my grandma as a girl bowing to Japanese soldiers,
a taxi driver’s blank stare when i speak Cantonese,

my mom’s permanently swollen hands.

In Yangshuo, Syphisus joins our bus tour. He trades
the boulder for beer battered fish

and we share a cigarette on gwai lo gai. When you’ve
carried the world on

your back for this long, you can do whatever
the hell you want.

I wonder, when a satyr looks in the mirror,
does he see a man?

When I look, I see Mary Magdalene with
the smoking flame.

By Alison Zheng


Alison Zheng graduated from UC Davis w/ an English degree a million years ago. She’s a Scorpio Sun/Pisces Moon. She thinks writing is tight.

One thought on “I interrupt a selfie in Guilin By Alison Zheng

  1. Saying I love this would be putting it mildly. It’s probably the most accurate, thus to me best, poem I have ever felt.

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