Rabbits on the Balcony by Emma Miao is the winning poem from our 2020 Poetry Contest:
At night, the Yangtze floods my veins with gold.
I goosebump the rain-stained balcony, white
lines snaking up my tendrilled feet. White:
the faint pattern on my belly, digging into me,
through me. But I don’t know this yet: only know Mother
calling from inside, her red hand beckoning.
I know what she’d do. Fingerprint my eyes, flux
herb water down my throat. Every night
the house a museum & my body on display
like the rabbit, eye-locked with the crown
of the knife. Gleaming in the moonlight. The rabbit, like me,
is soft, docile, ivory fur glossy, her legs
bounding into the cable-bed snare. At dinner,
Father clatters her bones on the glass table.
Watches me knife red meat with streaked teeth. He smiles.
My belly, gibbous, because I am a good daughter: my eyes cast
in deference, my cheek red & streaked. I am a good daughter
to suckle sweat, drudge in the trefoiled frost. The fate
line on my palm nicked with scars. Good daughters spoon silence
into their mouths, so I skewer the rabbit: chew, swallow.
The lamp beside my bed is stained with Father’s eyes.
The wallpaper a shredded maroon. But now: silence.
The rain turned gold. I stick out my tongue. The flecks taste
like rabbits. Mother, inaudible. I close my eyes,
picture a gold sky. Give me your hands and I will bury them.
Give me a river and I will swallow it whole.
Give me a mirror and I will become the predator.
We are the vessels of so many lies.