Portrait of a Girl Named July

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. 

Emma Miao

Emma Miao is a 16-year-old poet from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She is a commended Foyle Young Poet of the Year, and her work appears in Atlanta ReviewDiode Poetry JournalCosmonauts AvenueGlass: A Journal of Poetry, and The Emerson Review. She is a finalist for the Atlanta Review International Contest 2020 and Yemassee Poetry Prize 2020 and has been recognized by the University of Roehampton, University of South Carolina, and Pulitzer Centre. An alumna of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship and the Iowa Young Writers' Studio, her poetry explores the Asian-Canadian experience, the (ex)body, and inter-family relationships.


Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay.