501: Facial Recognition

501: Facial Recognition

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.