Grace Q. Song is a Chinese-American writer residing in New York City. Her poetry and fiction have been published or are forthcoming in PANK, Waxwing, The Journal, The Offing, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. She attends Columbia University.
June 13, 2021
Like cicadas, we emerged with bodies more strong.
In the yard, children dreaming no further than tomorrow
climbed sycamore trees, each foot a perfect mango.
When people spoke, the universe skid on its side
and straightened itself like a painting, all at once.
We looked at each other, faces loved before memory,
and remembered an end so certain. As if, hurtling
through a tunnel, we knew that the future, bright-
winged and dark-eyed, lay at the other end, just beyond
a blink. It was like watching a flock of startled magpies
fly away in a lightning of blue feathers—
not because they saw something coming,
but because they didn't know
how dangerous, how close it was.
WE SHOWED EACH OTHER MERCY
last night when I pulled away from the sink
to let my sister wash her face. The step,
small and plain, like a penny. For so long,
I believed we could not change
our life. I kept drawing the curtain over my pain,
over the truth that belonged to me,
trying to make the dark safe enough
for two. But later my sister turned off the faucet
while brushing her teeth because she knew
I hated whenever the water ran
without end. And like a child holding a photo
under the warm coat of a streetlight,
I tucked the moment into the pocket
of my heart. Proof, clear as lightning.
That we would not be ruined,
Summer in a city of pearl-yellow limestones.
I walk in sandals thick as a camel’s eyelash.
Cypress and oak trees knit the streets
as people roam onto highways
of sunlight. The wind tosses desert rose
and white lilies like a skirt into the air.
There are few dead ends here. When I turn
the corner, I remember I must write to my mother
and brother, who have come home from work
and tucked their day away, one shoe
after the other, and I begin to practice
describing my life, one stitch at a time.