Poem in the voice of the Woman Warrior

Poetry

Before I whisk myself away with the blades my grandmother wrought for me, consider this: this is what makes me America. My long black hair, sliced into a blunt bob. It used to blow lightly in the wind but now it is a mane of helmet. A thousand transformations reside in me; I could be a giant bird, so vast that you would see no demarcation between me and the sky. I could be a mote of dust, a wisp of sunlight riding on the slightest breath.

I learned many things in those days I spent dreaming. I learned to drink dew from the air. I learned to run at the speed of the modern day bullet train. I learned to jump from Buddha’s palm straight to the Great Wall of the U.S.A. I learned to summon my ancestors from beyond my world, to erase the lines between real and fake. I learned to marvel at myself.

A dragon rose from the depths of my slumber and retrieved, from the bottom of a well, the stories of my second aunt’s dead baby girl from China. The dragon took her gently in its claw and laid her in my cradled arms. I swathe her in red, white, and blue, hold her close to my mouth. Tell me about those creations, I say. Tell me about all those worlds. The pupils behind her bloated eyelids narrow to a pinprick. You already know, she says. I hold her closer. The swaddling falls from her swollen body, and every time I try to wrap her again, again, again, it falls. A thousand transformations— I could be anyone. She was my exception.

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