Wendy Xu



It’s true, nothing is coming out like it used to anymore

Usually I am rather neat and tidy in my work

It is spring, that time of year when all rain is expired cherry blossoms, the ground pink like
above us, more pink

Walking through the park with my love I think about Chang-e, goddess of the moon, her
exquisitely timed appearances at my moments of deepest need

I’m so tired of the compromises of women in my cultural folklore, as if: sacrifice is defensible
as a feminist vision?

For example:

Your husband is greedy and demands ever greater production of silk from you, plucked
from your own tender skin, spun overnight to meet his needs

Your husband is hoarding the immortality pills and so now you have to live on the moon

Your husband loves you even in your true form, an enormous white snake, but he dies
because you’re pregnant

Your husband is a dick, generally, and the other details are fluid

Thank god you are beautiful and a wonder to be regarded from Earth

GuanYin remains the champion of mercy except in her punitive dealings with men

As a child I admired her for being above all “helpful” in my limited aspirations, perhaps I
only aspired to that much, to function with use

Do you have context for this legend? Shall I include it here for you?

If I do, who is my perceived audience?

Some of you are my brothers and sisters and I allow you your infinite transgressions

My father writes me:

I just read your new poem NOTES FOR AN OPENING, it makes me think a lot, feel a lot, a lot about my life and our life. It will make me think and feel much more and more about myself and my children and the relatedness of our life in the true meaning of living or simply being alive. I love you Wendy, my daughter. Keep writing it. Let the thoughts flow whenever they come in your poetic form or other forms. Please ask if you need anything from me. I have been thinking a lot lately about our life journey. Nothing is better than writing it out and fully express it although it is really hard to re-experience many things.

Note: punctuation and grammar have been corrected

As per: your convenience

Do as much as you can as best as you can

My friend detaches the leftmost leafy frond while I encourage him from the table

Is asked gently, almost sweetly, to leave, to respect both himself and the venue that hosts

The bar is not so much indifferent as it is lubricated

I think about the wonderful hyphen, the place where I am allowed to live and am never

Blank Hyphen American

The hurt is the bridge, the bind, the unnatural (Hyper Hyphen Natural) adjoining, my

A grammar joke is: “Chinese-American” privileges the “Chinese” over the “American”

Get it?

I wish my life were so good that I was frequently bored

“A fatal sickness”

Which is despair but despair does not equal death, so what is unto death?

I am so glad I did not have to love him unto death, though I love him there

“All good things must end” and give rise to still undetermined things

If I despair of it I am sick with it, an already dead attitude, a levity I no longer feel

I am sick with love for my immigrant parents, the long mirror they hold out towards me

The poem will have no annotation, no disclosure, no burden, no qualifying exam, no end

It will be all language prerequisite

You might focus then on my sickness and use it to betray me

You might have no time no money no inner resources with which to begin


WENDY XU is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and the winner of the 2016 Fence Ottoline Prize. Her second book, Phrasis, will be published by Fence Books in 2017. Recent works have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Boston Review, PoetryHyperallergic, Guernica, and elsewhere.


Add To Cart