DEATH BY HANGING
after Nagisa Ōshima*
I didn’t die
when I was supposed to. My bones
slipped from their ropes, dreamed
their way back under the ash
of the pear trees on the school-
yard roof where the first sin
occurred. Should I feel shame?
Should I remember my crime? Come
morning, last night’s notions of return
are absurd. Extant somewhere outside
of physical space—not knowing where you are
in the empire, not knowing where you are
in the body—I know the only thing a human
should be scared of is living
where they’re not supposed to. Although my feet swung
below the trapdoor, although I almost fainted
from my painful heart. I want to tell you:
a poem decolonizes nothing.
There are four walls to a prison.
There are two borders to a country.
Still. You cannot run away from your body.
A body cannot run away from the consciousness
that has settled in like the strangled embrace of a mother.
Here, there is no way to exit
without stripping naked. Shot of
the river, like a woman’s waist. How many
have died? How far apart should the fake bones
be? Don’t show anything on the ground
that might be alive! I heard there was a human
market. Translation: the viewer knows now
the magnitude of what is lost by what is
not shown (the academic says).
This way, is the violence really remembered?
Pulling red from red like water spinning
at the bottom of a dyed bowl. The body
of war reanimates on the museum display.
Meaning: let’s put it somewhere the people
Emily Liu is a student from the Chicago area. Their most recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Feral, and The Phoenix, and their work has received recognition from the International Hippocrates Young Poets Prize, Pfeiffer University, Poetry Society, and Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, among others.