qīngmíng By Katherine Wei

qīngmíng

I dance around a flaming luminescence
of bones being mended; unapologetic.
while lint licks dust off the furnace,
embodiments of departed relatives
carve a sliver of a silhouette against
the rusting walls of their once home,
my home.

I see them pop sunflower seeds open
with their molars, not their canines
& their carcass lays idle, yet their souls
waltz gracefully around the tawny tea table
where nǎinai used to sit,
sipping mòlìhuā chá,
delicate, delectable, deafening.

April of every year I feel their presence;
eyes piercing into my paper skin made of
dense red pockets, choking on large bills
that I mustn’t keep for myself,
firecracker stomp on my eardrums,
listen: it’s playing the music of the
deceased.

sometimes I can see their wrinkles,
lapping to the rhythm of the pendulum
in the grandfather clock—
years of their lives accounted for in soft sways;
Yéyé of ninety-two.
he plays mahjong.

his quivering breath incites a wave—
characters resembling pictures that I once knew,
maybe when I was five,
maybe when I could still distinguish the two halves of my tongue,
maybe when my Chinese was not twisted shambles
of flashing cartoons.

tsunami of tones,
curving up and right and left and up.
my vocal cords glued. stuck to my spine.
ash detonated up and up into the air,
listen: it’s whispering faint cries of pain,
it’s annual tomb-sweeping day.

By Katherine Wei

Biography:

Katherine is currently a sophomore attending BASIS Chandler in Arizona. She likes to skateboard, paint acrylic portraits, and play volleyball. Her writing has been recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and been published by Risen Zine, Page and Spine, Life in 10, and many others.

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