There’s a Violence to Cutting Flowers
Cathy Linh Che

With metal shears,
I snip the purple phlox
and arrange them in a vase.

They stand shivering
in the sunlight like so many

sexes exposed. On my laptop
is a black and white image

of a woman on her back.

Her face is covered, and
but her vagina is exposed.

A long thin reed
has been stabbed

right through it. From
a Wikipedia page on

The Rape of Nanking––

women were raped
one thousand per night.

A girl perished, but her sister
survived. Infants were cut open

to let the soldiers break through.

When you are raped,
what happens to your name?

In the room, my flowers stand
upright. It’s been days

and they haven’t wilted.
They stand naked to the sunlight.

Their bodies seem violently
exposed.


Cathy Linh Che is the author of the poetry collection, Split (Alice James Books, 2014), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America.

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