Facial Recognition, by Alice Liang

From the poetry podcast “The Slowdown”: https://www.slowdownshow.org/episode/2020/10/26/501-facial-recognition (October 26, 2020). 501: Facial Recognition

Facial Recognition
by Alice Liang

Read an automated transcript.
After Sasha Stiles

In China these days,
they recognize a face
with a single hair.
The city streets lined
with one camera
for every ten heads.

Most of the time,
I can’t even recall
my own reflection
in a mirror, so I have
to say I’m impressed
by the city’s sweep.

In my American suburb,
my phone blinks good
morning to my face.
A policeman’s chest
camera is blind over
another dead body.

The ringing in my head
drowns out the knock
of recorded reality.
Someone afar is calling
for me, or for some other
Asian woman nearby.

At any rate, someone
is looking for one of us.
I can’t be sure if it’s God
or the database who’s
kissing my eyelids, who’s
stroking my back to sleep.

There are the men who’d take
any one of us to bed,
but none who’d know us
so intimately. Scanning
our every open pore,
and saving it to memory.

In the data, my face
doesn’t match today’s
suspect, or yesterday’s call
for internment, or
tomorrow’s terror of
mass detention.

The state doesn’t fine
my feet for jaywalking,
or brand my back with a score,
or at least not that I know
of yet. So I get away
with ignoring it all

For now. Unsure of how to ever
step foot in my old country.
How can I ever stay still
in the new? I can lose
my face but the data
never forgets.

“Facial Recognition” by Alice Liang. Used by permission of the poet.

Posted by: Anne Henochowicz <anne@chinadigitaltimes.net>

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