For All My Missing Jiejies and Ayis

Her face is a dark smudge on a white milk carton.
Her face is a pale circle underneath blue ice.
Her face is a perfect blank of negative space,
because the casting call read
white actresses, ages 16-32,
only.

Her body is only a tangle of limbs
in the cavern of a trunk,
in the soft spring dirt,
in a room with no windows
and a locked door.
The camera always pans away too quickly.
They cannot show you
this
on network television,
on the nightly news.

They cannot show you what she would look like
in a hero’s costume
with a hero’s cape.
Not on network television, they say.
There is no market for that.
Come back next week,
we’ll be casting a geisha girl,
a dragon lady,
a prostitute.
We’ll paint your lips so red no words can escape them.

Or they erase her entirely
and tell her she’s escaped,
and tell her safety lies
in not being seen at all.

It is so strange
that they cannot imagine us as superheroes,
when there are so many of us,
an entire army of Invisible Women.

Where do all the missing girls go?

Sisters with my eyes,
aunties who speak my tongue—
I dream for you a world
where you are safe and you are seen.
I dream for you a room
with no walls and no doors,
with the smell of perfume and bao in the air.
In this room you can cry and you can curse,
you can laugh with your mouth wide and delighted.
In this room your stories are told
and your names remembered.
In this room you can move objects with your mind.
There are so many of us here.

The women in this room could save the world,
if only they would let us
out.

Sharon Hsu

Sharon Hsu writes speculative fiction, poetry, and criticism. Her work has previously appeared in Uncanny, Tor.com, and Augur Magazine. In addition to being a staunch Hufflepuff, ex-academic, and voracious reader, Sharon co-hosts and co-produces As My Wimsey Takes Me, a podcast about the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers. Find links to her work at sharonyhsu.com and everyday musings on Twitter @pensyf.

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