I could no longer smell the bones
of my ancestors who are yet still rattling
in pujiang and zhoushan (my homelands?)
where now the mountains and the trees and the love
for the ocean is a fable for another kind of me.
so when he told me that I better not die
(when that part of me so wanted to die)
my limbs trembled too close to his bones
in his bed. his dangerous bed. where he could hardly look at me
like if he did he’d be bitten by a rattling
snake: hissing coiling—twisted—for his love.
that was the way he saw women on these stolen ancestral homelands.
how many occupied indigenous homelands
has he crossed before he wished she would die?—
another chinese woman– “who should just kill herself,” yet, he’d love
it for us both to fulfill his needs, forever. those oracle bones
I could not understand were viciously rattling
a warning song as he swallowed nearly half of me.
I lay there, wondering whether he had ever cared about me.
all I wanted was a friend, not for anyone to ‘secure’ my ‘homelands’
but still, his white skin taut over my eyes, a blind death rattling,
this wool I cut from wolves, not yet ready to die.
I wanted and still want to lay them over his bones:
these are his skin, and his wool. for him to love…
what wretched meaning have these wolves given love?
it has been too long since they listened, really listened, to me.
I wanted them to return my flesh, even banish my bones
if it meant that we’d work to return to our homelands—
then, we can be friends, lovers, something? Work together or die.
work together. or die. the broken song of shells rattling.
after that summer, I could sometimes hear my ancestors’ rattling
inside the earth. were they stirring there for me out of love?
does the tremendous weight of memory lift when we die?
I shall not ask for forgiveness for how he hurt me
nor for these wolves after scorching such innocent homelands.
he lied to hide what he felt in his bones:
a deep hatred for the cracks in my bones.
He once asked, would you die for the love of your homelands?
I whispered, teeth rattling, “would you remember me?”
Jane Shi is a Han Chinese settler currently living on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish peoples. The mountains of Zhoushan and Pujiang cradled her family and ancestors, while she was born in Nanjing, Jiangsu and lived and grew up in Shanghai and Richmond. Along steep cliff edges of fear, anxiety, and violence she clings to dreams of more-than survival and safety, of more-than possibilities of trust, community, and freedom. She wants to live in a world where love is not a limited resource, land is not mined, hearts are not filched, and bodies are not violated. In the meantime she will fold dumplings, trace poetry out of the shadows of the english language, and dance the unknown rage within.