to the fish market on central and eastway By Ash Chen

to the fish market on central and eastway
— after ross gay

we came to this
city to work
my mother’s mother
was a noodle hawker in her
hometown which is
probably where
she trained
her lungs to yell
as they still do
my father was
a fishmonger
and the area he picked
to open his store and
buy our home in
was rough but rent
was cheap
and the only papers
that mattered
were green
because we came to this
country to work
for our families
like the woman named
blanca that everyday
skinned and gutted and beheaded
the carp and bass and tuna
whatever was fresh caught
and on ice and the best
of which was
saved for our dinners
and this city isn’t
all ours
but at least
central ave has
those chinese groceries
and eastway dr
has those taquerias
and we have
our mothers that
mean so well
yet yell so loud
everyone knows that charlotte
is a banking city
and therefore devoid
of soul and
nowadays gentrified
to high hell
but even then you can’t
scrub the stench of
fish guts
out of work clothes
but the hand-scaled
steamed-tender flesh
that fed our families
tasted sweeter than
the horizons
and seas we were
denied way back in 1882
and the dreams we were
promised even today.

By Ash Chen


Ash Chen is a first generation Asian-American student at UNC Chapel Hill, where she majors in English with a minor in Music and another in Science, Medicine, & Literature. When she is not managing her campus responsibilities, she enjoys reading and writing queer literature/poetry, playing the electric bass, and sustaining injuries in mosh pits.

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