cultural consignment, New Mexico heat,
Albuquerque splayed and burned across
the South. it gives the distinct impression
that she does not belong among the sand,
the city would rather have her exiled
outside the limits, pushed to her own kind,
and take the long road in, commute an hour,
but be removed—yes, be removed again.
the shell of a watermelon is striped,
the jagged lines of dark and light unfurl
to show the red flesh underneath. she digs
into it with a spoon, the ritual
of Saturday evening, desert-laced night.
if the night was spun with chrysanthemum,
blossoming over the shallow rock pools,
her hands would pull back rough and reddened skin,
pick out the dark-as-night center, and eat
the pure-white, sweetened flesh of the lychee.
in our refrigerator we keep a
jar of icy lychee jelly. It was
first brought to my attention when my
Chinese teacher brought our class a jarful.
a remnant of the childhood she had.
i’m sure there were lychees in the Southwest
when my mother lived there after moving
from China, and in Indiana too.
In Houston, I know they’re in Chinatown,
and in my grandmother’s small stone backyard,
nestled between kumquat and green onion.
but they are not the same. they never are.
By Tyler King
Tyler King (b. 2003) is a writer, songwriter, and composer. His work in poetry and prose has been recognized multiple times by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. In addition to writing poetry and fiction reflecting mainly on his Asian-American heritage and the impacts of contemporary masculinity on youth, Tyler co-directs Imagination, his school’s literary journal. There, he focuses on curating new content and helping student-writers develop their unique styles and voices. Tyler attends St. John’s School and resides in Houston, TX.