Parthenogenesis

Envy these female hammerheads:

how they swim in purified

fields, pregnant by salt or ocean

without contact with males. Link and lock

that warmth. No tepid waters.

No freeze. Immaculate.

I am fertile as loam and no one braves

me – oh, flesh of flesh of bone

of blood

and someone was inside me but I remain

terrible

I remain empty.

The roots of parthenogenesis are “virgin”

and “creation” – spiders, snails,

scorpions love

themselves, love their bodies,

rapture, rupture—life takes flight.

Progeny in your nests, twigs, and tanks.

Web me the mouth that fields

my questions. Ransom: fatherless children

who will never wonder except

in wonder – the miracle of their mother’s

bright bodies: blue hammers, blue tails.

Magic Whitening Princess

In the Ao Nang 7-11, I buy the cheapest sunscreen: SPF 50 PA+++

Magic Whitening Princess Sunscreen by Cathy Doll. On the box,

a sad tan cartoon girl languishes under an umbrella. In front of her,

her pale counterpart winks, smiling, brazen & sunless. MAGIC,

the label reads. JOY, it promises. WHITER SKIN, it proclaims,

backs that up with ingredients: “titanium dioxide”, “L-Glutathione”;

Fright is the color of my half-experiment, half-joke. I lather it on,

the ersatz glow—blend it into my skin. My arm hairs turn white.

Chalky, pale umbra, slivers of silver. Now my legs are bright fissures

in a skinned desert. White Lady is the name of a skin emulsion,

a serum to correct dry yellow faces. On the subject of a white lady,

Louise Brooks, Hilton Als once wrote: “We are all the product

of someone else’s dream.” That dream, to cast a radiant light,

alchemize a new skin, find a formula that alters the kind of sight

we are. My dream, to court the sun, extend its fingers. To suck

its gold egg & gag. My chalky skin doesn’t hide me from myself,

sallow girl in the sand, her spilled drink & shrunken parasol.

The melanin in her face a testament to what? Broad daylight

makes us crave invisibility. Legend has it, a woman once surfaced

on these sands, half-drowned. A sun god spotted her & cast a spell

so she turned brighter. But she turned so white-hot she scorched

the earth—her own bones, ruined. You can’t seek protection from

this primeval sun. She lives inside a cave, skin milky as moonstone.

Wanting light, she collects fragments of glass to catch the sun’s

reflection, but it never answers. Now a million women want to be

as ashen as she. A million girls spelunk in lightless caves.

O, lovely girls, with your sarongs & sashes, your lashes so black

behind sunglasses, your parasols sheltering you like floating gazebos,

your sun hats woven with your gods & ancestors—O lovely girls,

do not be afraid. The light is not your enemy. Come stand in the sun.