Climb to Ancestral Tomb in Jiangxi Province

On the way up the mountain, I was not sad
about the tombstones. Miniature moons
& where moss flagged its record—

Jiangxi shouldered a mass of centuries,
now smudged into the bunchgrass.
The air was schlepped with purring winds

& cicadas that could swallow daylight.
Lullabies— picture a grandfather
split apart at the eyes, a grandmother hung

by her lily-feet. Yes, Jiangxi carried its mountain
like a yoke. The sky haloed the mounds,
its twilight flecking goldenrod helmets
despite the heavy weight of a family

stamped under its spears. But I was not sad.
I watched the stones sear their shadows
into the ground & recalled the departure of people,
lurching from one year to the next. Goats wobbling

off cliffrock. Bison stampeding blindly
down canyon shafts. What softness do their pelts
slip into? What holes crib their insides so proudly?

What I saw was there: sparse fruit offerings &
three lingering bows & incense rushed up
dusk, still blood-stained & all I could do
was wait for the color to disappear. I waited

for the night to answer. Hoped the ghosts would hear
my wordless indifference, the sound of progeny
growing into a field full of weeds.

Sophia Zhao is a student at Yale University from Newark, Delaware. Her creative work has been nationally recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and is featured in The Adroit Journal, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and elsewhere. She enjoys painting, poetry, and jasmine tea.

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