Jasmine Cui

Anna May Wong Stars in a Silent Film

All I remember is the glare

of cameras. Every mouth I’ve met

is a flight risk, which is to say that no one will kiss me

offscreen. Instead, I am propped

up against a slick of women.

Men like me most

this way: a duplicate, voice drowned

out by the masses. They marvel

at the comma-curve of my back, the hairlessness

of my limbs. I am best when shaved

into something digestible. I never stick

in the clutch of a throat. They insert

my face into a Time centerfold & joke

that this is affirmative action. The truth is I am not good enough

to play myself in films because my skin

is likened to jaundice—who could love an

affliction? I am an illness

which is to say I did this

to them—I should be quarantined. The enemy

bears a striking resemblance to me. A man says

he wants to watch me unravel in a shallow pool of rain. I know better

than to call it a tragedy—this is just Thursday.

If I could speak, I’d say when the little match girl immolates,

be courteous & watch.


Jasmine Cui is eighteen and only getting older. Her work has been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Art and Writing Foundation. She was named a 2017 Foyle Commended Poet by the Poetry Society of the U.K. Her favorite writer is Joan Didion because all Joan wanted was for someone to listen.