Your First Grade Teacher Insists
Your Name Is Lai Fong, Not Lai Yee

Lisa Low


Your birth certificate says so
but you know otherwise.

You know how fish sweeten
at your ankles and what is inside
a mountain.

            Softest part of night:
your sister untwists a snail
from her hair and lets it down

slinking. Radio disappearing like steam

off water. Your spine like river

and seaweed, your name which arrows

north as you slope off the bank.
So gorgeous it feels like sadness.

Even after all these years
your bitterness is a fish hook 

circling your finger, a finely
wrought disc.



* The italicized line approximately quotes a line from Banana Yoshimoto’s The Lake.