JinJin Xu is a filmmaker and writer from Shanghai. She has received honors from The Poetry Society of America, Southern Humanities Review, and the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. She is currently an MFA candidate and Lillian Vernon Fellow at NYU, and her chapbook There Is Still Singing in the Afterlife was selected by Aria Aber for the Own Voices Chapbook Prize and is forthcoming November 20.
Days of Hourless Mothers
my mother’s insomnia wets my nose,
You are leaving me
My mother’s insomnia wets my nose,
exhales her abandon
into the muffled orifice,
Exhales her abandon
into night, guilt unclenches
the muffled orifice,
old tissue, balled-up grief
Of night, guilt unclenches,
balled-up tissue, old grief.
I am leaving.
Each hour an organ, a zodiac beast,
twelve hours separate my mother and me,
our days halved, up hanging down,
shadows splitting this American sun.
Hour of the tiger: my mother
calls on the tip of night,
her sun spitting my American shadow,
sorry, sorry for disturbing your sleep.
Midnight tips me into
my mother’s lonesome noon,
always, I apologize in my sleep.
Only one is allowed pity,
Pity my mother’s lone moon.
Double the organ, double the beast,
only one child is allowed to
flip the zodiac onto its knees.
Hour of the lung and its cyclings of qi,
vital, untranslatable beasts
wailing songs of abandon
into night, I wake to
Your call, vital, untranslatable,
my abandon strains your voice,
Why are you awake?
Organs need sleep to heal.
I abandon you to the bright of day.
Listen, your daughter is sleeping，
her organs unclenching
your night’s far shore.
Soon, your tomorrow will ring
her into yesterday’s outstretched lungs,
and when she wakes, forgetting
to call, let her -
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