Purvi Shah

The enemy within

“Asian women smell sweeter,” he says, deploying
his small sample size to explain the phenomenon
of insects tenderizing my flesh, carving
red hills on a ruddy skin. The Georgia Boy seeks
to conduct a personal evaluation, stretch
his fingers across each dime-sized point
of contact, institute a science
out of the history of invasion.
He could survey each hill, mark
it hematoma, pustule or corpus
incognito. I translate my bumps
to craters, the scars of An Khe,
Amritsar or Nagasaki, those global stings
in his memory, my landscape.
I snatch the bottle of OFF, target
my extremities, point
and shoot, launching
the next massacre.

Purvi Shah
“The enemy within” is from Terrain Tracks (New Rivers Press, 2006), and first appeared in The Diasporic Imagination: Asian-American Writing in 2000.