All His Eye is Meant For


Sweetwater Trail, Tucson, Arizona 

At eight years old I draw the seams

                                                a playhouse 

                                                                            My stepfather promises

to pick me up from detention

                                     tells my mother we’ll get pig’s blood

a Chinese delicacy                   throws me 

a Pepsi can                               thinking I drink soda

tells me to get into the trunk

                                                                or go back to foster care

          he drives

It is not until I return 

                                                  twelve years later 

that I remember the dark rise of the Arizona skyline

                                      even in the trunk

                                                                                                      tied wrists wrapped ankles

how could I scream 

                                    An easy trail 

                                                                                  Plenty of parking

            Not enough people         My stepfather yanks

                                              my arms pops green pods 

                                                                                  into my lips

            the palo verdes part their blooms

as his hands shove the yellow flowers

                                    disfigures my steps

                                                                                six inches deep 

a darkness the way Southern desert desire 

                                                                                hides his mouth

                                    between my legs

      his forehead folding in our place

                                                                                            after we pass the saguaro 

on the hillside after we spot mute deer 

                                                  begetting a beloved

            he stretches a pinkie finger 

                                                                              “well then promise” 

To protect the lower bark from javelina rabbits 

                                                              or deer he spills my cola 

              past the wash             past the switchbacks

                                                                                                        the severed parts 

                                                                for burial

Sylvia Chan is an amputee-cyborg writer, educator, and activist. Originally a jazz pianist from the San Francisco Bay Area, she lives in Tucson, where she teaches and works with foster youth. Her debut poetry collection is We Remain Traditional (Center for Literary Publishing 2018), and her essays appear in The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2019. She is a 2022 National Poetry Series finalist.