Author: Sandra Becker
Location: Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Originally from New York, Sandra Becker now lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with its natural beauty and enriching artistic community. Her chapbook, Foreign Bodies,
was published spring 2004 by Carolina Wren Press. Poems have been published in Bucks County Writer, Comstock Review, Concrete Wolf, Flesh & Bone, Freshet, Mad Poets Review, Rexdale Publishing, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts,
and Out of Line.
She was a runner-up in the 2004 Robert Fraser Poetry Contest and first runner-up in 2009 for Bucks County Poet Laureate. She also received a writing award from the National League of American Pen Women/Simi Valley Branch, in their 2000 Poetry Contest, for her poem, “Honor the Stones.”
For all the young girls in China forced to endure
the agonies of foot-binding until the practice was made illegal in 1951
We told you, six years old, we would
bring you red bean dumplings,
ground almonds, herbs,
steep mulberry and roots to make
the bones of your feet soft as water,
the form of a lotus bud,
the size of a thumb.
My child, we would embroider miniature shoes,
and fashion glutinous rice balls
to offer on the altar of Guanyin.
We said we would dress your feet
in alum to contract their tissues, control
how they bled and oozed,
apply perfume to disguise the odor.
We would begin in winter
so the cold air would help numb the pain
you would feel as we forced you
to walk on your broken arches and toes
each day bound tighter in silk,
until toes met heel
and they closed into the dreamed-of iconic buds.
This binding would make you more marriageable,
offer you hope of a better life,
help please your husband’s appetite.
This pain, we promised, would prepare you
for the hardships to come,
make you more marriageable,
offer you hope of a better life, help please
your husband’s appetite. Later you would learn
what we did not tell you.