Procedure

Jennifer Huang

I wear the gown wrong so I can't be touched.But the doctor, delicate in her asking, asks meTo open. I am not accustomed to this gentle;I crush it. It is summer here. These wallsFluorescent white so light I can feel me burn.The doctor and a body. The vinegarShe puts inside me. I glue a mouthTo this heart. She wants to cut me apart.No, she wants to cut a part from me,Hold cotton until I clot. On the wall:Laughing child splashed by water. I amAware of my heart. I count my blessings:Three missed calls, two mirrors, one bouquet.I am numb. Then I touch some place low.

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photo of Jennifer Huang
Photo:
Ian Burnette

Jennifer Huang is the author of Return Flight, which was awarded the 2021 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry from Milkweed Editions. Huang’s poems have appeared in POETRY, The Rumpus, and Narrative Magazine, among other places. In 2020, they earned their M.F.A. from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program. Born in Maryland to Taiwanese immigrants, Huang has since called many places their home.

"Return Flight is an attentive but effulgent but joyously aching book. Its lines dig inward and cling even as they unfold outward in excess and surprise. 'What pain is the desire for pain?' one poem asks. 'Many visitors lately, another begins, I wake to an ache in my sternum.' Huang's lines can move like that, with, sonically, crystalline compactness, while directing the reader with cinematic clarity of scene and the delights of recontextualization … Return Flight is a book that aligns itself with pleasure. Burrow inside."
—Jos Charles

"Jennifer Huang's compelling poems arise from the mutable realm between speaking and flying, touching and breaking, absence and forgiveness, numbness and desire, everywhere and nowhere, the home of the body—and home. Here, the poem abides even through gradations of silence—the bone in the throat, the tongue both captive and captivated, and love, too, abides, despite striations and separations, even dissolving the veil between the living and the dead."
—Diane Seuss

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