So we bring mooncakes to the playground
in a ruby red tin riddled / with gold pimples and black / graffiti. We perch / above chocolate wood-chips, jade / grass. Mei’s sweaty hands / dive into the tin of flour crumbs, sucked / into tiny gaping mouths / from the playground floor. A girl / sits at the end / of our slide, where the teeth of the tube / bite an orange climber. Her eyes / flicker into my lap, back / up to me. From the tin / we eat, bean and pastry / wedged under fingernails. The moon / grazes her tongue, and her face / cracks into a thousand / pieces of porcelain we couldn’t possibly hope / to pick up. We xiǎo nǚhái, we / can never fall for fear / we might shatter.
Soybean, green bean, red bean, bullet / holes. Soon, the playground slide is filled / with shrapnel and we burn / through our clothes. We wear scars / as freckles. Freckles, dark / freckles, foreign.
I think back / to the Laotian boys, the boys / at the bakery, the boys / pressing flour and rolling dough / in the corner. Waving their white / powdered hands, the prettiest skin / on their bodies. I trace a finger along / the face of my moon, feeling / for a crater, the blemish of a star. / Sticky legs kissing / our yellow slide, sunflower / cheeks bearing lotus seeds / and painted bread, a red tin balanced / across our knees. Our moons / inside.
By Katherine Vandermel
Katherine Vandermel is a writer who strives to use language as a tool to resist the erasure of marginalized ethnic communities. She loves music and a good, warm croissant. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in Alexandria Quarterly, Blue Marble Review, Poetry Resistance from Youth, and has been recognized by Behrend College and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.