Back to Issue Thirty-Three

Ode to Tilda Swinton, Ending with Empty Gut


After Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

For you, I have cut off my mother
tongue: my Mandarin name,
once heavy, blind, pressed against
the inside of my gut, now bleeds
into my mouth when bitten,
tasting of a lemon made stale overnight.
For you, I have called myself
pretty much a banana—have freed
myself from this burden of my own
body, of pulling all the love poems
I know out of this chink throat
until I feel like I am made of air,
until I feel like I am that song on the radio
whose chorus is the only part I remember.
Tilda, you are so beautiful tonight.
In your white gown. On a red carpet.
Your gut weighted with down.
I think it must be easy to love you.
For you, I have cut open my stomach
and taken out the birds who have
nested there. Tilda, I must tell you,
I’ve raised them in the warmth of my palms.
Tilda, I must tell you, they are flightless.


Eileen Huang studies English at Yale University. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon
Review, The Adroit Journal, Hyphen, and on NowThis News.


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