Over tomato and egg soup, Mom said
She still remembered going
To the post office, twenty miles
North from her dorm, to mail
Each letter to Jack. Xi’an,
1997, five pages per envelope.
But I’ve never thought of her
As talkative. Often silent in our house—
Housework, my homework and expenses. Debating
Which grocery store carried cheaper carrots, though
I never even liked them. (Too earthy, their bodies made
My mouth so soapy that I had to drink
Each time I swallowed.) But still, she brought
A bag home every week – for Vitamin A.
While slurping carrot soup, forcing myself, I tried
To ask her what she wrote. I’d never done that
Before. We moved when I was five, and still
She packed up those withered-yellow letters.
Torn during the move. I was too young then
To care about her past. Now I wanted to, and we had
No place between us to start.
I watched her, in and out of the kitchen, sweat dying
Her lavender shirt to eggplant. Her white hair
Passed by the girl who would complain
About those rainy Xi’an days, from the girl who would write
Five pages brimming with love to my dad.
That night, I found the letters in the last drawer
of the book shelf. I skimmed
Rushing from inner Mongolia to Xi’an, as smoke
From the stoves shrouded her from sight.
Minnie Wu is a high school sophomore at The Pennington School. Her poetry and prose have been previously published in “Teen Ink”, “Pennyroyal”, among other literary magazines. In the 2022 and 2023 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Minnie was recognized as a Gold Key recipient and a Gold Medalist for her poetry and photography. She is an alumna of Iowa Young Writers’ Studio Summer Residential Program. Minnie loves spending time with her cat and dog, and she also enjoys watching K-dramas.