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Charred Letter for Fujian -- poetry by William Du

ink strokes on cotton.

I was embarrassed by your feral howls

but also intrigued—

you were the one who looked like me.

the color of a bruise,

taste of metal

running like watercolor

down my thighs.

Our love bled red, like your letters. Mother

threaded them into beaded necklaces, triangles

you carved into my psyche,

colonizing the canvas

of my skin, blacking out the details

of my face: boarding school headshots. Finding me

in the twilight between bedtime and napping,

a statue of myself

with your signature on its neck.

You wrote on my skin,

in black ink,

orchids that wound tightly

around your pastel letters.

Please wait for me, atop the linden trees. In the end,

we did not put an end to war.

We did not stop dropping bombs over the

rain-white spines of men.

Feel my skin, a stitched-together

collage of your wounds. And when you peek

into the windows of my poems, I see your petals swollen and glazed:

written in lipstick

on the mirror of my eyes. To the Japanese,

an unfinished haiku scrawled inside the thigh

of a girl pushed over the Fujian power plant during an air raid.

In your bed, I lie as still as ink: a letter not sent,

a story not told, covered in a façade of skin.


William Du is a high school student at Delbarton School. He finds inspiration and beauty in the motion pictures of everyday life. In his free time, he enjoys fulfilling and dispelling stereotypes and writing satire. He has a fondness for elegies and plays the piano.

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