By Anna Wang
shrimp shells in florida
handmade spring rolls, flaking
from insides and unpeeled like
haste on our tongues. wrapped
uneven as heritage, teeth-edged
like the cow-horn comb picking
shrapnel from my mother’s hair
each morning. first she unfurled
shrimp from their casings, tails
curled like empty shells around
bullet holes in the cutting board.
then she stirred in the egg, foam
innards on medium-high, the way
melons split of sugar cradle dirt
and weep flesh from shock wounds.
unearthed scalp shot through with
white. skin, yawned open for filling.
rice water soups around the spring
roll in my china bowl, fluid-logged
and stirring. the shrimp swim again.
china: jade(d) and the lion
In china jade is priceless. Which is to say no
-thing is more important. Which is to say the warehouse window
appreciates my sister’s shiny forehead. The luster
that nimbles its way through the groove
of her upper lip: the marble sheen of sweat, coiled lion’s
mane on the other side. By contrast, the artifact: frog eyes and spittle
frozen in statue static. The lion’s wig: scorpion tails
and tumbleweeds, again and repeat. Careful—the emperor buried his gem fingers
in those -stone locks, wrapped them green to his cheeks,
and don’t you forget his apple smile on the deathbed.
It bore fruit. So here we are, noses smudged like yearning
for their own distinctive prints on glass, imperial descendants,
which is to say we wrung thin before anyone told us. Which is to say Sister
has ragged ovals beneath sculpt-sheen eyes. For a moment, she is semiprecious; sales
-lady has a centered off-center part, but sister
buys a bracelet anyway. She shackles and re
-shackles herself. When the part and its lady say good day,
say good luck—sister looks this country straight in the face
and bares her uncut teeth.
so easy to say we were wild and leave it
for the wind to decipher. true, we plucked
branches and foraged for cricket hums
in the silence of our knuckles, in tented
canyons sweet as skittle juice on rainbow
hands. the first night you learned how ma
deadbolts—3 times even you didn’t inhale
the entire night. not once. you told me then
this is how it should be and I tried to prism
a snake’s scales, I tried but quartz was too
soft for a divination. the canary left a trail
of feathers; we follow before learning diamonds
are not stumbled upon, not like dark spaces
gleaned under a yawning moon, not like
your cheek so easy and soft on the cushion
of ma’s beat-up van. this is what i’ll remember.
Anna Wang is a high school student from Illinois. Her poems have been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and her work appears or is forthcoming in Eunoia Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, and 3Elements Literary Review.