In 1970, my father pledges allegiance
to a dead man.

A student wears the Mexican flag slicked against his spine
pinned to his cotton jumper. Brass needles: nails; his country: a crucifix and

I rip faces out of magazines, perforating the covers, fingers hooked
into the holes, an iconic orange, of a pair of Fiskar scissors, remembering

an angry 43 branded into your left hip. Forever inflamed, forever
hidden beneath the lip of your Levis. A mother saves a seat

for the son who never returns. He lives
with his Father inside a funeral

portrait, eyes and face stolen
by a sulfurous sun. Sometimes,

the lost are never found
and sins are never absolved

and the cost of freedom is calculated in pints
of blood to be exactly 387.

By Jasmine Cui


Jasmine Cui is 17 and is majoring in Political Sciences, Economics and Violin Performance at SUNY Geneseo. She aspires to be like her parents who are first generation Americans and fought an extraordinary battle for their place in this country.

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