nonconsensual translation in the extended family WeChat


dad started it
bragged in the chat, as dads do:
look at my [child] who is a poet on the internet!
             drops a link
             his siblings can’t read
and why, yes, [他] got those artistic genes
from him and no one else, and no
other genes, definitely not, what else
could there be?

        In a bouquet of cousins
as scattered and unmarried as this
it is statistically unlikely I am alone.

a 诗人
is a keeper of the temple
of words, one who prays
thrice a day, sweeps and smooths
the throat’s alcoves, holds out
the tiniest sweetest mandarins
for strangers wandering in, then

retires to the inner sanctum
to refresh their faith

in solo-sex, in DIY
hormones, platonic soulmates,
open-source body hacking,

in unintelligibility
to unkind eyes. Who knows

who churned my old words
through their clever mind
until, family-friendly, they fell
from their clever fingers
onto the screens of aunts, uncles,
who knows? Whether it was

a cousin’s friend’s brother
an uncle’s colleague’s daughter
an auntie’s friend of a friend

not a friend, I thought,
of my little transqueer heart
whoever it was. Characters
in a green box, stick-thin,

In my panic, I forgot
the cheap Amazon binder I saw
hanging on yé​ye’s balcony

though who knows if that cousin
checked the chat. I uninstalled WeChat
because it stopped responding when denied
location permissions, and because I knew

the silent state
we would return to

weeks later, mum updates me: another cousin
flies to America to finish her Masters
and it’s uncles turn in the chat.

Listen to Jiaqiao Liu read ‘nonconsensual translation in the extended family WeChat’


Jiaqiao Liu is a poet from Shandong, China, who grew up in Tāmaki-makau-rau. They are finishing up their MA in Creative Writing at Vic, working on a collection about love and distance, relationships to the self and the body, and Chinese mythology and robots. Their work can be found in ŌRONGOHAU – Best New Zealand Poems 2017, Takahē, this gender is a million things that we are more than: poetry from takatāpui/genderqueer/trans writers from across Aotearoa, and A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand (AUP, 2021).