- Self-Portrait as the Poop Emoji, and: On What You Said Before You Read My Name Aloud
I came to this country as a young emoji,not much of a character, pretty flat, 2-D.
Somehow I slid past the immigration dog,with my smuggled turmeric and turban of turd,
but at a Starbucks in Ohio I was identified,a child pointed to me, burst out, cried,
"His skin looks like poop, Mommy!"Did she really … ? I wondered for years, till
on TV, on Here and Now, a child in her classcalls Hailey, aged six, poopy.
Now I've embraced my inner number two:always the bridesmaid, vice-president someday,
second violin, resident alien, understudy to Aladdin,I am the Slumdog, rising from feces,
but, America baby, you could never quite stomachthe idea of me, what remains unassimilated,
what your body refuses. Know that I am you,inside you, around you, I am, America,
the multitude. I am Wellbutrin, herpes,a hemorrhoid; health-uninsured, resistant [End Page 18]
to therapy; adjunct, postpartum, PTSD.I am whatever fell through your cracks;
I am the Best Exotic Marigold Emoji. [End Page 19]
On What You Said Before You Read
My Name AloudI'm not even going to try to pronounce …I'm going to butcher this next one.
Leave butchers out of it; you are not one.Go see Top Chef's third season.Watch Hung Huynh's knifeglide clean through the skinof a chicken as if through butter.He can unhinge a bird with a razor,sever its joints without a sound,leave every bone unbroken.You'd barely knowfat from sinew, and your tongueis no knife. My name, too,is not easy to undo,Go on, tryto butcher this next one. [End Page 20]
viplav saini is a native of Delhi, India, and has published work in Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and The Massachusetts Review. A Kundiman fellow, he teaches economics at New York University.