The Lynched and the Lynch-ing By Tianyi Shen

The Lynched and the Lynch-ing

His hands
Run down
The cold of my spine.
I say:
What is it like to have a Ba who loves you?

The first chill of autumn brush my knuckles
My tongue curls around bitter hawthorns inside
Sugar kisses. Pray, to earth do young girls seed
Their puberty. Hem your dresses, he says.
Keep an eye on the road, he says.
There be murderers

But the only man I see murderous behind me is him. Knuckles dug deep
Into a stranger’s waist. Bleeding like an Augusta’s sun.
Do you often think of me?
When your fists are on a foreign body, kissing
a skin you do not know so deep,
every contour,
every trace,
screech when we are wounded
From your own?

I reel every morning to disressemble you.
Our overlapping tongues still groom the same story.
They rave a tale of generational trauma that smells like stale but tastes like candy.
We feed it to them, like napalm’s gold trimmings.

His hands
Run down
The tip of my hair.
What is it like to have nothing to say to a psychologist?

For every one of them I pull you out and lynch you a thousand times.
Lights shake above him like a halo. I say,
When in reality, we rip clothes, we rip Laolao, we rip Jia
But you never touch
My hair. Ba, this part I’ll never tell
How you saved a part of me
just for him.

So I can ask him now
What is it like to have a Ba who loves you?
So whole
It breaks

What is it like to have no one to lynch a thousand times?

Tell me and I’ll believe.

By Tianyi Shen


Tianyi is a Chinese-born, boston-based poet who explores familial conflicts and generational heritage through the medium of a second language. She has been recognized by the Scholastics Arts and Writing Awards, The Kenyon Young Writers Anthology and her school’s literary publication, the Spire. In her free time, she can be found cuddling her cat.

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