Beijing Prepares Herself for Company
When I arrive at her apartment,
Beijing cracks open the door
just enough to snap, What makes
you think you can just
walk in at a time like this?
It’s 2006, and the world
is waiting for her. On the hook
above her door, a red silk dress.
Her hair’s still in curlers, no
Maybelline yet. There’s bras
on the floor, and other things
I can interpret, but rather not
think about. She tells me
to come back in one year,
but I tell her that’s too late.
Outside, there is a compost
pile, surrounded by a line
of artificial trees. Beyond,
the world is as flat as Megiddo,
with sprouts of construction
all the way up to the sun.
Before she will let me in,
she locks all the closets, kicks
the trash under her bed. I hear
the door unlock and her heels
snap across the floor. When I
come in, she’s sitting in a chipping
bathroom, putting on heavy lip-
stick. Won’t turn around, but says
she’s getting a White Beauty
facial in an hour.
I ask her what’s so great
about white, my own
Scotch-pink skin, blotching
from the cold,
and she turns around,
her eye-shadow dark like a stage
dancer. It’s nice for people
to not recognize who you are,
she says, and only now do I understand
how generic her face, her lips, the space
between her eyes—how every day,
her hair was curled, straightened,
wigged blonde or cut, and how,
if I saw her on the street today,
I might not find the girl who hosted me
in her place for seven days.
Beijing Explains Her Twelve Year Old Gymnast
She isn’t twelve, she’s sixteen.
Her name is He Kexin. She was in
the Olympics before but now
is retired; too old.
No one believes me—you think
we want to look so young?
That we don’t want American
breasts, full Western hips? And lips?
I have no daughter, but if I did
she would fly like He. She would live
in the air, and only come down
to eat moon cakes and taunt us.
She would be afraid of no men,
and no men would enter her.
Her body would be tight
like a branch, unbending
but beautiful—no one would
educate her, she would sing
too loudly. She would not be known
by name, but by the way her legs
whip through the air like a bird.
The way she vanished so young
without demands, without fathers
to condemn and harness her wildness.
About the author:
Meg Eden's work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Eleven Eleven, and Rock & Sling. Her work received second place in the 2014 Ian MacMillan Fiction contest. Her collections include Your Son, Rotary Phones and Facebook and The Girl Who Came Back. She teaches at the University of Maryland. Check out her work here.