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An Abecedarian for Szechuan

America doesn’t smell like this, was my first thought coming

back after seven years.

Cigarette butts fill the gaps between pavement, diseased

daisies in this industrial meadow.

Enter here:

Follow the familiar curve of your grandmother’s eyelid to your own, kiss her

gentle brow, kiss

hands that pucker from monsoons of acid past.

If her love is tucked into the gap between your teeth, or cold

jade pressed into your palm, you must

know that it is

love, all the same.

Mandarin may sometimes feel like pumice against your skin, and

niceties may slip through the cracks that seem to show

over and over in quiet

places. Your memory will be

quite selective—you will

remember the ghosts that flitted between yellowed walls: How

sad it is that she has an accent. You can

trace stitched satin in the damask that flowers across your pillow,

under your sheets. You will feel as though it is all in

vain, this trying, all this trying, but you must try to see this

wrinkled love.

Xiǎo gū niáng, little princess, little girl, you must

yell. You must grow,

zhǎng, it lingers on your mother’s tongue.


Sabrina Mei is a sophomore in the MSB studying Marketing, Analytics, and Film & Media Studies. She is one of the Executive Editors for the INDY.


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