“Thus it is on the one side a study of wealth; and on the other, and more important side, a part of the study of man.”
—Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics
Dad blurs his days by clipping moments into IVs
and transfusing them into strangers. Meanwhile,
I’m waiting in the E.R., telemetry flattening,
eyes bloodshot from incisions ten years old—
1 to 10 how much does it hurt, well, I’ll say 9
and save the 10 and the morphine for the day he
might forget to measure the seconds and attach his own IV.
(“Now see, love,” he’d say, “forgetfulness signifies a great mind—
if you juggle so many difficult things,
it’s natural if you accidentally drop a few of them”)
it’s hard to treat a patient 2000 miles away.
Dad used to scrape dishes with bitter detergent suds,
cracked fingers and a sliver of blood because that’s
what creates the sheen on the brims of our creaking railroads
and chipped jade. at home was he misty-eyed, lauded, an art professor,
underpaid, just an art professor. In the west, then,
was he christened Chinese piece of crap;
to that he lowered his eyes and just thought
about mom and my brother across the pacific.
He changed his name eventually to Employee of the Month
and now he thumbs the American middle-class dream with one hand
while pinching nickels with the other to save them for me.
shortly after he stopped answering when mom asked
when we’ll have enough money for him to be satisfied
and come home, I injected my last vial
of saline to disinfect the dehiscence every time he left
on the cheaper 6am flight back to los angeles.
Lillian is a seventeen-year-old gal with chronic vagabond symptoms, but her heart’s more or less obliged to smelly onion roots, so Chicago’s lucky enough in that sense. Her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, New Voices Young Writers, and Sierra Nevada College.