Lesson in Bleeding

Another October licks the gutter. I run sidewalk streets. Leaves

          collapsing, bleaching, dried. Their veins are maps

I see myself in. Thirteen & I’ve spent a lifetime outrunning

          change – but what can I know or fear? Seasons tilt, leaves rattle.

Small things I miss. At home, my unraveled briefs: the small star of blood

          unfurling in the toilet’s porcelain belly. My knee seeps,

scars pucker my arms like white lips – but they were like that

          already. & I wanted to die already. What does it mean,

womanhood? A hallway, a door? Another dumb word

          I’ll spend my life chasing. It came for my mother at eleven

when a girl framed her for theft, again at twenty-four

          when she traveled an ocean to have me. She speaks

of fluorescent stains and the mat she slept on. Says immigration

          is a series of rooms: how she ripped herself from a blood-pulse

womb – and what did she run from, & what did she miss?

          Love, kin. Blood. A world shuts when you say it. But I bandage

the wound. For what is life if not a room to chase, & what is this blood

          if not a smaller ocean to cross?

Katherine Liu lives near Chicago and attends Stevenson High School. She edits poetry for TRACK//FOUR, and her writing appears in BOAAT, Red Paint Hill, and Alexandria Quarterly.