someone calls me the c word and i respond

Emma Chan

there are worse things to be. i could be,
for instance, dying, or alive, but just
enough to be taking up space. i could wade
through a body that does not belong
to me. yes, i could ravage, rumble,
sour your milk, bite your children, poison
your evening news. i could enlist
my grandparents to waste like a disease
among the rubble, steam rising
foreign and filthy through the aftershocks.
or (gasp): i could cough.
yes, there are worse things to be
than a disruption: the way a country shudders
in the aftershocks of an enemy
so fragile our fathers call it china.
the way our grandparents’ mouths
already look too much like a wound.
the way people still waste their teeth
trying to chase us into hiding in the sands.