Black board. Red scarf.
A fountain pen in my hand.
Copying hanzi into grids.
Lining up and going down
to the fields at dusk.
March to political tunes
and stretch our limbs.
Pack up to be picked up
by guardians outside the gate,
their gossip sharp and loud.
Every meal a delight. Taste buds in paradise.
Roasted white radishes and spicy lotus root.
Served fresh from the cafeteria in metal bowls.
Devoured in the classroom. We always want more.
Homemade recipes that might go extinct.
Seafood noodles with bamboo shoots.
Served fresh by my great uncle when
the family meets in the seventh-floor apartment.
The adults warring over mahjong and the kids
sipping orange juice while watching cartoons.
Learning two instruments with private tutors.
One is the electronic keyboard in a little room
where the coach wields a pastel striped pencil
that she uses to strike my hands
when my fingers fail to lift high or
my notes become jumbled like my thoughts.
The other is the hulusi. The cucurbit flute.
A gourd with three pipes attached.
A treasure from Yunnan. An instrument
I will grow to love years later, but not now.
Coming down with the swine flu in November.
Harsh hospital lights. Antibiotic IV twice a day.
My first roommate is a boy with tuberculosis.
My second roommate is a four-year-old girl.
Jackie Chan Adventures playing on TV.
Dreaming that I can go outside after ten long nights.
Returning to my second grade classroom on the third floor.
My classmates issuing a collective cry of welcome.
They don’t judge my name or face because we are all alike.
At the time, this is nothing. Fourteen years later, it is everything.
Twenty-one-year-old Chinese writer of sapphic antiheroes & queer found families, poet, and musician.