Exodus 1949, Shaanxi
for my Grandpa
here the ocean is an entire continent of hunger,
children cup a handful to their mouths to discover
their palms, once an entire grassland grazed warm
by blood, now withering fissures across parched hands.
the ocean is deaf to paper skins shredded against
the wind singing, a melody we devote ourselves
to perfecting. despite our size, we are still very much
mendable. fold our backs into wings and our tongues
into wind. stretch our spines beneath the ocean floor,
to one day be uncovered hardened into diamond.
even in our blood you’ll find traces of steel
from rusting shovels. we have nothing
and everything to give. our tongues growing
calloused from suffocated prayers. bruised
ghosts that hide beneath our hardened skins will break
into clouds and land with the gentleness of rain, of history.
moonlight projecting our shadows into giants. sextant.
compass. some days I swear I’m becoming more of a vessel
for the stars, drifting across skies and oceans for anything
to cling onto, but call it home and we’ll never reach it.
we keep our hearts wrapped in our lungs
and lose a little every time we breathe.
you create a new life by erasing the other.
how unfaithful can one grow to their body?
we still carry the ashes of our homes
like a skeleton. there used to be stars where
I lived. we would pretend to pinch them
from the sky and rub them into our palms.
sky full of ash, sky full of dirt, sky full of
charred bonedust. now the stars seem
more distant than ever. now we stretch
the sky into a shadow into our past.
this body is not clean. I’ve been trying to forget
the names of family, even my own, trying to wash
myself of my own blood, until I started bleeding
from everywhere. even in language we’re inseparable.
in chinese, we don’t say goodbye. we say zàijiàn,
zài for again, jiàn for meet: I hope we meet again,
so zàijiàn bàba, zàijiàn māmā, zàijiàn. zàijiàn
By Spencer Chang
Spencer Chang is a writer based in Taipei. He is also a dancer and freelance web designer in his free time.