poem in which i am the family reunion's peking duck - Naomi Ling

cw: homophobia


I want to be looked at like I am the only pretty thing in the world. My

glistening body, it beckons for your tongue.

Mother, auntie, can't you see? I am splayed out

like a prayer, my limbs bisected. Revolving

around a lazy susan, a fortune cookie. I am more

than a pulsing heart. Perhaps I should stand up,

walk away from this disaster while I still can.

I want to be displayed like a three-act play,

a one-woman's show. Or should I say

bird's. Call me greedy. Uncle licks his

lips as if to say teenagers as if to say all

they do is cry cry cry. In my dreams

it wasn't always like this. There was

a waiter balancing me on his chin. A gold-rimmed

platter and a salivating po po, napkin

tucked in her collar like a secret. (I am

served with a lotus flower, which Cousin

nabs with ruddy fingers for himself to admire.

Good. He has learned to appreciate pretty

things in the world.) Maybe we

are all meant to be devoured like a duck,

dressed up only to be undressed in the

back of a seedy bar. I keep tabs while

she spits out her teeth. All of you nodding,

the same agenda again and again. Can you

believe people are gay now? Now you are

begging for entertainment, for a surprise

in otherwise mundanity. Clotted milk

gushing out of your mouths. I want you

to be at my mercy. In all my past lives

I am not the good daughter: but call me

Medusa, I'll place my hands on my head

and let myself be bitten a thousand times.

Reclaiming my bloodline, flesh

sinking into liberation over and over

as you watch in your seats. Say, 吃饭.

*吃饭: Chinese, meaning eat or dig in

Po po: Chinese, meaning maternal grandmother

Naomi Ling is a Sino-American student writer on the East Coast, USA whose poetry and prose often grapple with identity, nostalgia, and returning to her roots. The founder and EIC of Gossamer Lit, she is also a staff editor for three other journals. Her works have been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Awards and Top Ten Poetry and are forthcoming in Eunoia Review, TYWI, all guts no glory, and elsewhere. She tweets unprofessionally @naomilingwrites.


Naomi Ling is the winner of the Fall 2020 Sad Girls Club Poetry Contest.

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