From ten stories up, you listen
to your grandma whittle the moon. You
remember there was a time when she laughed
until the sky blossomed porcelain sparrows. And in
between fish bones & bleached phone
books you realize there is only
so much of the ocean one can reclaim.

Sunday. The youtiao shop has closed, and the newspaper
says nothing of the choked erasure miles away. But
when you’re hungry, you take not what’s yours ⁠—
you consume the
ancestral tune of your father’s village. And
in this room, atop this kingdom of sheepskin & cartilage,
silence is deafening.

And believing nothing would change you, you
heard the sparrow’s unfamiliar tune, waded into its waters,
imagined your footsteps as nothing but a headless shadow.
Show me, you said, how leftover rice & gasoline fingers
build a home, how
a moon’s sorrows spill red embers across skin.
You have learned how to lose something invisible ⁠—
you have begun
to forget what heritage tastes like.

Richard Li is currently a student at Brown University. His writing has been recognized by the Austin International Poetry Festival, Button Poetry, as well as the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

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