this is what your mother did,
and mine, too, gutting
their dialects like they did fish
in the smoke-province of Zhi Jiang.
the stuff comes away in long,
curling strips. my mother cries
when it happens. yours doesn’t.
in mandarin, the word mi
means secret, and also thick,
dense, but really those are
all the same thing. how can
a secret live without a mountain
of bone glass to burrow in? (you tell me
it can flop around and then asphyxiate.)
i am told not to romanticize
the poor in china. still, i write stories
about sinking the cleaver into a fleshy carp.
its skin splitting by the seams.
clouds above, moon swimming.
my mother tells me
this is not how it works, sarah.
we crouch and wait for
our breaths to nose our skin.
bones drier than silt, we spit sweat.
no secrets here, says the girl,
says the woman.
now we thumb them down
our mouths. count stars
on denim on oxford pocket
By Sarah Feng
Sarah Feng is 14-year-old Californian, a lover of coffee and dogs, and a steadfast advocate for the Oxford comma. Her works have been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the California Coastal Commission, the Write the World Novel Writing Prizes, and more, and her writing appears in a handful of literary journals.