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June 21, 2019 Poetry

Dead Baby Syndrome

Margaret Zhang

Dead Baby Syndrome photo

Morning smells like horseradish,
dogshit. The squat toilet in my uncle’s house:
too cramped to hold

a breathing thing. My cousin, barely older
than three, calls me “姐姐, 姐姐,” as she teeters
between the threshold of tiles and toilet to scrape

her teeth, even though I do not have
any sisters. Breakfast is hard-boiled
eggs, a bowl of porridge I cannot stomach

but stomach anyway. Afterward, my uncle takes us
for a walk, and as 妹妹
collects mosquito bites, I want

to stay in China forever, to have a 妹妹,
a real 妹妹, one who won’t ever let me forget
my name. I change my mind

too quickly. The shower is not hot
enough. Two lies and a truth still make
a lie. I do not think of heaven like I used to.

image: Dorothy Chan