Late Stroll Down Nanjing By Sophia Zhao

Late Stroll Down Nanjing

Submerged in sunlight, the air unclothes
itself and fine bands of black powder trap our
faces. Your lips, thinned into gunmetal bite,
are unmoving; sucking on dry plum—
swearing that we are still sacred. On
streetside, the elderly clutch at their talismans,
rings of bleached jade, copper coins
scorched into glass beer bottles. We don’t touch,
don’t breach what the ebony-crusted fields
stand for; your pine wrists are thickening as
leather drags, limp. The young play
jianzi, punting crooked bullets to decrepit
rooftops— metal trickling down
slope, terracotta brittle following its
steed. Your fists shoot bronze shield
dreaming about a child and her
green tea porcelain, her cotton feet tucked and
plated with lotus. Near the hall is a lake,
their totem stooped over the moon. And in its
reflection, a pair of flooded figures:
one soldier, bodiless and vying sweetness
by the second— beside him,
a bouquet of pale silk ripped open,
cremated to the bone.

By Sophia Zhao


Sophia Zhao is an eighteen-year-old from Newark, Delaware currently studying at Yale University. Her work currently navigates themes of cultural identity and grief. She enjoys painting, poetry, and jasmine tea.

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