beijing: cinnamon apple candles By Kristine Ma

beijing: cinnamon apple candles

i. forbidden city
plastic fans spin. heat rolls off of the streets,
tangible, shimmering.
a girl and her friend lick at melting, overpriced popsicles.
colored sun-umbrellas and bucket hats float above the beijing streets.
washi tape and notebooks.
red pillars and gold trim. evening sunlight.
two souls drift, suspended in the fields of asphodel,

ii. dongcheng station
ponytails high, dipped in sweat,
ascending and descending on crowded subway stairs.
freezing air conditioning in the cars. on the ground,
a poem written on the back of a wrinkled receipt.
the paper was thin and smooth, the lettering small,
first letter noticeably thicker than the others:
an attempt to get the ink flowing.
silence echoes on the beijing subway.

iii. wudaokou
neon signs of bars, magenta and cerulean
spill onto the streets. bubble tea in our hands,
rolling thoughts and tapioca pearls around in their mouths,
both doughy and sweet.
cold rain against warm skin, cinnamon apple candles.
street food: cold skewers in a cup, spicy oil pooling in the paper bottom.
hot pot: duck blood, red, turned dark gray in tarnished metal.
memories: smiling, holding alpaca-shaped lollipops up to a camera.

iv. sanlitun
shopping bags in hands, overly fancy ice cream stores.
loneliness floated on their minds even though they were together.
astronaut and planets painted on the black statue of a dog,
face covered with freckles of stars. lampposts spray mist
that disappears like clouds of breath.
cicadas sing, a droning elegy.
summer is ending.

v. 798 art district
every word written–
heavy with the weight of you.
we held handles of painted umbrellas,
sat on acrylic benches.
strawberry smoothie, mango smoothie for her.
we sipped through our plastic straws in silence.
i can still taste the cold sweetness in my throat.
a bent paper clip falls out of her pocket.
i pocket it.
cinnamon apple perfume on my skirt.

By Kristine Ma


Kristine Ma is an Asian-American writer and high school junior hailing from Michigan. She received three national gold medals and several other recognitions from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Additionally, her poetry has been recognized by the Young Poets Network and appears in The Hunger and Bridge: The Bluffton University Literary Journal, among others. When she isn’t writing, she can be found playing piano and oboe, watching anime, and dreaming.

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