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The Ankh

the honey moon

for the past six years, i have been in a secret relationship, hidden from the world, my loyal undercover lover.
we would nestle together under the divine, murmuring till death do us part.
each morning, comfort curling around us, drawing us closer, we’d hold each other so tenderly, the kind that only existed in fairy tales.  
we promised to never let each other go
the infinity of our love expanded, stretched, bloomed, held us in its warmth
when we made love, it only escalated the intensity burrowing deep in our hearts
we would lie in bed, exhaustion heavy on our bones, our muscles,
we’d had grown weak for each other.
each time the world seemed to collapse, burning everything in sight, i knew i had a shoulder to return to, a set of arms to envelope me into comfort.

i was unafraid. there was no safer, more comfortable place in the world than in the arms of my undercover lover,


i was ready to give you my everything. every piece of me. every flicker of my energy.
i was utterly enthralled. under your spell.
there was no love greater than between you and i. a match made by the gods above whispering, gently teasing us together, wrapping their influences on us, but we didn’t even need that, we were enchanted with each other well before that.
we had unintentionally seduced each other. my loneliness revitalized you.
your promise of sweet nothingness enticed me.
i was ready to die for you.
and i almost did.
on many occasions.
i did not want to live without you.
i did not want to be without you.
any time we spent apart was excruciating.
only in moments where i felt like i was drowning in your love, suffocating, did i feel alive
when i began starving myself, i didn’t feel like i was depriving myself of anything, it felt like this enormous sacrifice that i was willing to make for my love.
i was doing it for you. 5 crackers a day. that was it.

the break-up

i was dying. that’s a lie. i was already lifeless.
my lover had moved into me, i had hollowed out my body so they could sit comfortably within me. so upon their eviction notice, i felt how heavy emptiness can feel.

all of the times i forfeited my right to eat, all of the times, i abandoned my friends, all of the time i had so sweetly surrendered to my lover, began to boil and disintegrate any piece of me left.
i was a heap of bones, figments of a mind, slivers of a person.

the recently excavated barrenness of my mind still sore, throbbed at my temples, my vacant body felt meaningless. after years of being molded to another, i didn’t have my own thoughts. i didn’t have my own feelings. i couldn’t feel. i sat in my purposeless silence, my haunting loneliness, what is the point of living when you don’t have feelings?

i had attempted to release myself form the grasps of my undercover lover, i had attempted to unstrangle myself, resuscitate myself, breathe again, but how do you do this when you are constantly looking in the mirror and only see a lump of flesh unworthy to call itself a person
trim off the fat all of the non-essentials that happened to be your entire existence.

i needed to not be me anymore. it was an desperate act. i was desperate. i didn’t know how to live anymore. i needed to leave, to get out, away from my undercover lover.
remove the evidence that they were ever here once and for all
the thought of cutting my hair shot fear and anxiety through my body.
i can’t cut my hair. it is who i am. i thought.
i told myself that i could not do it. no, echoes of my lover told me i could not do it.
i could not do it.
fuck that.
i mutilated my body in hopes of severing any final tendrils of my lover that clung to me.
in an act of defiance, i removed 6 years of my life from my body.
in july 2014, i carved my depression, my anxiety, my dissociation, my disordered eating from my body.
i sliced off 26 inches off my hair.

the fuck you

all of a sudden, with my newfound relationship status prominent on my head, i began receiving friendship invitations. it seemed like the clouds had parted, people that didn’t want to be my friends last year, started messaging me. people that would never have looked in my direction before now asked to hang out with me. get a meal with me.
slapped with surprise, i was dumbfounded by my newfound visibility, but with this raw constant exposure, i realized the how wholly dull and forgettable i was before.

i ran from one abusive relationship, into a community of people armed and ready to strip me of my agency. so, good-intentioned that they silenced me.

this heightened visibility made me relapse. i rewound myself into the cycle of violence. i slipped back into the arms of my undercover lover. the more people began imposing their language on my body, my “gender fucking,” my “queering,” my “radical,” my “extreme,” my “insurgence” the more the whispers of my past lover grew louder.

thoughtlessly, people excited to become my friends, interact with me, would state: i don’t remember seeing you beforehand.

how utterly uninteresting i must have been for my passings to be undetectable, no, hopelessly camouflaged into the background of another long-haired asian girl. why is it that only after i severed myself, unsuccessfully, from my past, with my queered state of being now openly crowned on my head that i finally exist to you.

you didn’t know me before? oh shit, must have not existed. how dare anyone tattoo their theories, their ideals, their imaginations on to this body they see as an open canvass for their interpretation i am not your china doll. you do not get to define me, use me.

but how dare anyone diminish me or anyone else, reduce us to just a haircut.
don’t fucking quell some fabricated anxiety you believe the first-years have about needing to shave their heads to be part of aasc. don’t project your own internalized racism, believing that people only see asians in fractures, the cool, the smart, the hot, the pathetic.

last year, as i was preparing for the asian american course that i was teaching when i was met with a yik yak post about how i was fracturing the asian american community because i had posted up a photo of a couple of my fellow aasc members with our shaved sides.
if anyone is fracturing the community, it is you, with your regurgitation of the white hegemony. playing into their false economy of visibility, as if me taking up more space leaves you with definite scarcity. as if my existence was threatened your realness. as if we were competing for those white eyes to validate us.  
how dare you essentialize your own people? how dare you do exactly what we constantly fight against.

at what point do we become our own oppressors.

i agree that the person is political but that is not an invitation for you to ejaculate and thrust your own assumptions on my body. i shouldn’t have become more evident, more present, only post-surgery.
when i snapped the ties to my abuser, how dare you pour glass shards of idealism, reductionism, and “coolness” expectations onto the very path i was desperately trying to run on. i did not want to be in my body. but you made it impossible for me to feel safe anywhere outside of my body.

you do not get to insert yourself in my relationship history. get that erect anxious attention-seeking phallus out of my fucking face. i do not have time for you.

my hair is not cool. it is not a phase. it is a radical reclamation of my mind.
do not claim this battle-scarred body as a part of your social justice porn.
stop colonizing my revolutionary acts of self-determination.


Jennie He '16
Image by Kazumi Fish '19