Jenny Zhang (b. 1983) is a New York-based writer born in Shanghai. She is a poet, fiction writer, non-fiction writer, and performer. Her book publications include Dear Jenny, We Are All Find (2012). Her journal publications include Rookie Yearbook One (2012), Rookie Mag (2011), Glimmer Train (2010), Iowa Review (2011), and Jezebel (2011).

Zhang has been awarded the Provost Fellowship (2009-2010) and the Teaching-Writing Fellowship (2009-2010) by the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Photo credit: courtesy of the artist

 

From Dear Jenny, We Are All Find

 

THE FIRST FANCY FEAST OF FANCY

 

In Lisbon you watch spiders become nudists

and I become a nudist as openly

as your wanton need for reproduction

to be arbitrary, and it is.

Look at me, my existence

improved nothing, the world

still gasped when the president

revealed his asscrack

the smoothness of a child

who has been sandpapered

into a blister which we pop

by running in bad tennis shoes

on the courts of ancient history

where my people put a pile of bricks

on an island and Korea was born

later, the Korean war was where

my grandfather’s arms vanished

the false note of us

standing with streaming tears

in front of the Holocaust memorial

was played over loudspeakers

which hung like ripened fruit

in the backyards of every important person

like my sister’s accountant

and your mother’s doctor’s secretary’s gardener

who is my sister’s accountant’s sister.

Other people have sisters? Yes, and whales

have noses and missing teeth

can grow in size if you leave them in milk

which is why when I open my mouth

you think what you see is a cavern

where our babies become feral

the marks in trees you think

some kid carved with a knife

but here I am beaming head to toe

showing my invisible teeth, my future

wreath which tells me I am a friend

of spiders and their genitals

which fip flap like a bell made of flesh

which hangs between my fingers

as I grab hold of my friends, my people

the ones who woke me when I was sinking

and on the verge of a colossal disappearance

from this flawed, frangible world.

If anyone was to see me, I hope they only notice:

“A thousand coruscating shafts of sunlight…

… illuminating nothing.”

 

 

I PULLED A LEAF FROM MY EYE

 

It was bothering me for days. Finally I pulled it out, when it was out I put it in my hand, when it was in my hand I put it in my mouth, when it was in my mouth I started to taste it with my tongue, when I tasted it with my tongue I slobbered all over the leaf, when I slobbered all over the leaf I lost my ability to speak, when I lost my ability to speak my father came into my room and asked me two of the most important questions, when he asked me two important questions I tried to overcome my impediment and swallow the leaf, when I tried to overcome my impediment by swallowing the leaf my father got fed up and left me alone in my room, when I was alone in my room I felt the beginnings of pebble pain in my eye, when I began to feel phantom pebbles lodged in my eye I decided to let the leaf slide down my slimy throat, as the leaf was sliding down my slimy throat I suddenly realized I was not a good person, when I had my realization about my character I realized I was crying a lot, when I was crying a lot I felt my tears were hardening into pebbles and the leaves underneath my feet were just the road that led to another road that led to another road that led to the same window I have cried beside since I was born crying in my father’s arm with snow on my teeth when it was winter and I had to be handled in every way, and besides, I was not even really alive.