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.
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
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.