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Hunting for Daddy's Girls

—Vanessa Y. Niu

Hunting for Daddy's Girls

Honey bane I think you’ve caught me, I’ll say

Girl, shut up and hope you say more, sit on my hands

to prevent myself from ripping the cross off your neck

while the sky pulses overhead, littered with Vegas stars

Daddy said the best way to handle a woman

was with your hands wrapped like rosary and now I

love best right after prayer. Desert rose I think you’ve

caught me in the dry air, you puma you jack rabbit

you ace you joker. Under the table you only say No,

not anymore when I laugh at some new ingénue who

comes in hoping for salvation. You’re not like that

anymore, you say, you’ve changed. And I should change,

too. You’re all crisp and solemn night air blowing sand

solitary and here. You’re all nun’s hips and echoing

footsteps. You no longer look at me when I say woman

unless I say it like one myself. My arms, now limp as

suburban roadkill. Daddy said the sweetest women are

the ones you leave, like miniature dust demons swiveling

under the heel of the rented range rover we crashed.

Was it there that you caught me? Gripped with

the dilemma of a car to fix? The only sound I could

make, laughter like a sputtering engine, scoff and plea

it isn’t broken, we didn’t need it, I proclaim it a

landmark of our love, that broken car, that golden ravine

a constellation, feeling landlocked, small, hungry for

something I couldn’t name. All that talk and so little

motion. How I wish I was autocompleting saying that

you didn’t kiss me that night, that I’ve still never been

kissed, that this tongue is just as rented as that rover.

Daddy said the best love was a hightailing one. Girl,

I’ve been on the run. The best love is the one where the

hunt never ends and the rabbit’s running forever.


VANESSA Y. NIU is a writer and classical singer who lives in New York City. She was a runner-up for the 2024 NYS Youth Poet Laureate, and her work has been recognized by the Kennedy Center, Teen Vogue, the Guggenheim, NYFW, Frontier Poetry, as well as set to music by Juilliard and Interlochen composers. Her poetry collections have been finalists in the Black Lawrence Press Immigrant Writing Series and Small Harbor Press Chapbook competition.

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