i spend my afternoons in the heat-soaked house
sitting backwards, watching bark-wrapped hands
push and pull at eggshell dough
kneading a slow heartbeat beneath
an incessant cricket symphony.
i witness the birth of mantou; one, then two
plumps of dusty sugar lining a bamboo basket
warm like the soul she wants to shape me into.
it is hard to describe the space i stopped taking up
when i began drifting into the next world, but
she feels me quietly; watching, learning.
if i inhale too deeply, i may cease to exist:
the afternoon rhythm roots
my empty body
to the stifling, dirt-packed ground.
bike wheels crack gravel outside
and whispering grass hushes laughter.
the sun bakes my cousins’ skin gold
but i keep inside
to spend my afternoons in the quiet
letting her press my bones soft.
Alicia Hsu is a Taiwanese-American junior at G.W. Hewlett High School on Long Island, New York. Her poetry is published and/or forthcoming in Euonia Review, Skipping Stones Magazine, Vintage (her school’s creative writing journal), and more. When she isn’t dreaming up new stories or escaping in a fantasy novel, you can find her watching nostalgic movies and taking walks with her two dogs.