by Allison Jiang
In Chinese, the verbs for “swallow” (violent)
and “drown” are homonyms.
They are two fates separated only
by a twitch in the throat.
One like taking a bitter pill,
taking it all in.
I go down like sludge
I 咽 every last crumb, choke it down
with ease, esophagus widening
like I’ve done it before
because I have.
Watching the white-necked bird
trained to catch fish
with a snare around its throat,
I almost wish
that I am unable to swallow too
the awful boluses of these moments,
wish I could heave back up
into a fisherman’s outstretched hands
their slimy remnants
wondering (and only wondering)
how long it takes to teach a body
to resist itself,
to act like it hasn’t seen itself,
to fly back and forth between a deep sea and a harbor
for a minnow’s-worth of something good
Allison Jiang is a writer from New Jersey who currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. She works in the digital media industry and has been published in Buzzfeed, Vulture, and others, but poetry is her first love. Her website is allison-jiang.com.