Portrait of a Woman in 1969

The crawling wrinkles, rings of a tree,
trace her decades of teaching.

Her eyes flare flames when Red Guards spit, throw mud,
pound at her. They snarl. Several, her students. Red
bands dazzle the young arms. Bright

sunlight, surreal, refuses to kneel.
Her bouffant hair becomes salt marsh weeds.

Dusk creeps in, the filthy pond
smells metallic where another
professor jumped & sank

after such taunting. Red
Guards lie under an old Ginkgo,
gasp, sweat, desperate.

Still standing, she sinks Qi into her
Dan Tian. Her inner energy nullifies

the striking force, channels the madness to
forgiving earth, tremor. The secret training

of Wu Shu casts her into a statue. Her
Lips clench, eyes squint, sneer, sneer.

Xiaoly Li

Xiaoly Li is a poet and photographer in MA. She is a 2022 recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship Grant in Poetry. Prior to writing poetry, she published stories in a selection of Chinese newspapers. Her photography, which has been shown and sold in galleries in Boston, often accompanies her poems. Her poetry has recently appeared in Spillway, American Journal of Poetry, PANK, Atlanta Review, Chautauqua, Rhino, Cold Mountain Review, J Journal and elsewhere; and in several anthologies. She has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and a Pushcart Prize. Xiaoly received her Ph.D. in EE from WPI and her Masters in CS from Tsinghua University in China.

Just Like That
Let Healing Come