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here, corked in the doorframe,

—Ziyi Yan

here, corked in the doorframe,

stretched hide-like over the hinges, meat becoming bone:

a buffer/a body/a battering ram. the ground: snowmelt,

until it isn’t. halfway across the world, a mother

does 刮痧 for the third time: screeching spoon,

splintering skin, screaming louder than her daughter:

your own good/stop writhing/me more than it hurts you

but the fever never broke.        back home, i forget 

if i am anyone’s daughter. you cower at my skin

grafts: my knee against your stomach, fists

against the wood. i won’t show you my college essay/

didn’t lose the keys again/let me in/

                inside, a fire is fattening. inside,

the sickness is spreading. my future has always been

on its knees, head stuck in the birth canal, blood bubbling

instead of mother’s milk.         by night, grandma snuck in

              with a bottle, begging me to live: a child

is gasping inside you/use your whole body/

              pound the floodgates to water

i splintered the house and never learned to sit for a

meal/to step over a body.                         tomorrow, i know

i snuck in and didn’t drag anyone home by the skin:

no lovers wasted on the porch because your house

had no room for them to live or die in–             everyone 

pinned against my door realized that the food was getting

cold.                   then, i waited: a bouncer/an usher/

a beggar, even when i owned the place: come drop off

the groceries/ come wipe my tears/come tell me

how to write/ come talk of the future/come/

but i turn a doorknob and nothing changes

on the other side of the world–         i know

because you are already there: scraped

to a chalk outline/the door sloppy

              with snow/stop writhing/

let me in–


ZIYI YAN (闫梓祎) is a Chinese writer. Her work is published in Poetry Northwest, Rust and Moth, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. She is also the editor-in-chief of the Dawn Review. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @Ziyiyan___ or visit her website at

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