In memory of 奶奶 (grandmother)
quiet, but I know. Your kindness
Sculpting a hunched
figure through the streetlight,
son a shell curled along your spine.
O, you woman of
clay, molding yourself
stronger every day—brisk
steps into the kiln.
O, blood pumping like the wingbeats
of a myth. You coaxed fish-
bones from a child’s throat. You
poured yourself into little
vials and gave them away. Shed
skins and grew them back
faster. The last time I saw
you, I was thirteen. I foal. I burden
– ed with bloodline and love.
Like a parasite, I nestled fingers
between your laddered ribs,
palming the smooth underside of
everything I had known in the
city. We took walks by the Huangpu
River, the mall nearby. Your
son now taller, back also bowed
under the shadows of sky
– scrapers. I trailed
behind you like a smaller child. Returned
to America, your voice spilling
over the line. Then, the glass
emptied. I did not believe it at
first, your death. Like a mantra, I
kept company with my imagination:
We were at the beach.
My eyes were on the sand,
watching the waves pull you out to sea.
Back fading into the sunset.
Footprints smoothed away by the tide:
your imprint on me.
Karen is a high school senior from California. She edits for Cathartic Lit and Farside Review. When she’s not writing, she can be found watching movies or attempting to sew.