The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ye Mimi’s “His Days Go By the Way Her Years”

Translated by Steve Bradbury

A Moth Laid Its Eggs in My Armpit, and Then It Died (excerpt)

in an airtight phone booth╱ made of glass╱ you feel as though you’re sittin’ in a limo
╱ absorbing the scenery and being absorbed in turn╱ as you’re effortlessly carried on your way
the conversation they fashion cascades like ticker tape╱ out of their mouths and into their ear
╱ canals and forms a little heap in the cockles of their hearts
one day there’ll come a day╱ when everyone’ll have exhausted all discourse ╱ repeated every
             puffed-up metaphor
to everyone they know
every tired turn of phrase╱ every long-winded grievance and expression of affection

that is when╱ they’ll╱ twist their phone cords into a corkscrew spiral

╱ and in one fell swoop╱ flourish their scissors snip╱ snip╱ off with their handsets!

that’s when they’ll get a Bloody Mary╱ and the lyrics to a thriving song
╱ in a gesture of recognition they’ll savor forever


This selection comes from Ye Mimi’s chapbook His Days Go By the Way Her Years, available from Anomalous Press. Purchase your copy here!

Ye Mimi is a young Taiwanese poet and filmmaker. A graduate of the MFA Film Studio Program at the Art Institute of Chicago, she is the author of two volumes of poetry, most recently The More Car the More Far (Taipei: Garden City Publishers). Many of her poems are inspired by dreams, both by specific dreams she has had but also by the quirky ways in which dreams are cobbled together. Other poems seem to compose themselves when she is seized, for example, by a particular rhyme or alliteration that won’t let her go. Her best poems combine these sources of inspiration and tend to be written in a “white heat” over two or three days. She rarely talks about individual poems, but made an exception in the case of “A Moth Laid Its Eggs in My Armpit, and Then It Died,” when the English translation appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review a few years ago: “I really did have a dream that a moth laid its eggs in my armpit and died. It was just the sort of thing you’d want to call up all your friends and tell them about. That’s why I added all the stuff about phone booths. I’m more interested in playing language games than in communicating ideas or expressing my feelings, but in this case my feelings about telephone booths seem to have crept into the poem. I love a good phone booth and think it is sad how they are all disappearing now that everyone in Taiwan has a cell phone. I suppose you could say ‘Moth’ is a kind of elegy to that vanishing social space.”

Emily Capettini is a fiction writer originally from Batavia, IL. She earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and her fiction has appeared in places like Noctua Review and Stirring: A Literary Collection. Her critical work can be found in Feminisms in the Worlds of Neil Gaiman: Essays on the Comics, Poetry and Prose (McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012) and is upcoming in Neil Gaiman in the Twenty-First Century(McFarland & Company, Inc., 2015). She currently lives in Maryland.


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