Portrait of a Girl Named July
Words By Emma Miao, Art By cocoparisienne
Winner of F(r)iction‘s Spring 2020 Poetry Contest.
July slips out of Mother’s rusty womb
Tonguing red wails: 妈 for mother, 爱 for love.
Her cheeks fleshy, she blinks innocently,
Giggling. The gunfire reverberates outside.
Leaving the hospital, Mother thumbs the
Party’s Manifesto down her throat; July coughs.
Soon, she’s taller. Her hands grow steady; she
Learns to walk. She sings melodies of a strange
World: of peace, of books. Mother frowns.
Her hands sting July’s face.
The house turns less home, more cage.
July yearns to sing, to dream. But her
Skin’s still rusty from Mother’s womb.
And as she stretches, she cracks.
It’s midnight and July is crouched in the attic,
Fingers running over yellowed photos, silently
Mouthing her song. Her cheek is smeared red.
She cannot remember the words.