Title: Reaching

Poem: I used to be unafraid
of holding: would catch minnows 
with my bare hands, waist-deep 
in Sand Lake. Child fingers 
unabashed like ruddy eaglets, 
snapping gleefully to feed
my yellow bucket homeschool. 
Something changed
by the time I met the parakeet. 
She thrummed on my finger, 
heart like a little wind-up
toy, and for the first time
I was afraid of killing. 

Why won't you touch me, 
she would ask me again, 
and instead of lying
I would say her name
like some kind of 
substitutionary atonement. 
Easier than saying 
I've scaled too many
lovebound salmon,
pinched too many antgirls
into black-blue dreaming
to trust my hands with
peace. You don't know me.
You don't know that I was built 
in the hands of a fisherman, 
wicked fingers baited with 
gospel, taught second-nature
the required energetic processes 
for life. My Chinese grandmother 
greets us with Have you eaten? 
Leads us deeper into the house 
where my father, as a child, 
lost all his milk teeth at once. 

I am at the aquarium.
She is gentle and asks me
to stroke the anemone with her. 
Feel the way it stings.
I am reaching into the water
and I am touching. I am touching. 
I am touching.

Nora Hikari (she/her) is an emerging poet and Asian-American trans lesbian based in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Perhappened Magazine, Ogma Magazine, and Dust Magazine, among others, and her poem Deer-to-Fish Transition Timeline has been nominated for the Best of the Net award. She can be found at @norabotbot on Twitter or at her website

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