Jireh Deng

THIS BODY IS (NOT) A VIRUS
after Fatimah Asghar

I’m dreaming of new futures where I claim
the women who work the massage parlors

the fathers & mothers who leave behind
continents then pass down languages to their children

I’m blessing us gays theys & baes who kiss
in open streets or shuttered behind closed doors

I’m thanking my fight-over-the-check aunties & uncles
who drop off second-hand clothes & homegrown fruit

I call my people borderless when friends
fly away & green cards fail to grow on trees

I’m here for the tragedy when another life is taken
& when no metaphors can cup the loss I pray

for words to hold us all
I pray words will never be enough

my mouth has been the exit wound of my family tree
I’m asking you to make it your altar

an offering of love and laughter
to tide us through the storm and calm

the revolution in our hearts demands our pause
stop dredging up those kingdoms

& let your joy do the work


dengJireh Deng (she/they) was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California. Her words appear with the Asian American Writer’s Workshop, the podcast “VS”, Youth Speaks anthology, Between my Body and the Air, and elsewhere. Summer of 2021 she will be an editorial pages intern at the LA Times. You can connect with her on Instagram and Twitter (@jireh_deng).

Link to Table of Contents