I find myself days on end watching another man’s
baby—how he says a word and she repeats it, and
repeats it again until her oily lips get it right.
How a laugh like the first honey escapes her. How he knows
she’s done eating when her bottom lip
folds down. How a name—
one open syllable—can be a noun, an
adjective, a feeling of a blue magnolia opening up.
I like it.
I no longer anticipate your arrival home or wait to eat. I eat,
walk up the stairs, sleep, & dream of a man who knew love.
Love like porcelain plates scraped of fish bones and placed
neatly in the dishwasher.
Once I could hold myself up, am I free? Once I
could knowingly clench my fist and understand
the burning water down my face, am I sufficient?
And is our distance justifiable?
Now, I blame time. And you? I mapped us out in my
dreams—opened my mouth to see if you would call
back for me. After a while, these things become meaningless.
If I said my larynx was sewed shut, it would be an
excuse. I would be reprimanded. I suppose I have
nothing to call you anymore and out of mutuality,
neither do you. A name—a second of
fresh air—can be a badge, a weight, a clenched jaw.
Baba is an honorific left to a closed mouth.
A moribund language that I buried long ago
in the garden we used to call home.
Sophia Liu is a Chinese-American writer and artist from New York. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Sheila Na Gig, opia, Augment Review, Bitter Fruit Review, and elsewhere. She has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the National Council of Teachers of English, Cisco Writers Club, and Hollins University. She volunteers as a writing teacher for the Princeton Learning Experience and wants a pet cat.