in the first spring, cicadas suckle on limbs of magnolia
and white knuckles rupture soft from skin
in calcified flight. pale ilium spread two abreast,
a double ‘s’ crest of promise—this summer, jade
orchids cull long past bloom. you: are distracted
by this opium-flushed perfume, a tenderness
that cannot fix two thousand years of history.
dry warble scoured over, it is days like these
you smoke me like incense, make lame the rough
underbelly of a forgotten mother tongue.
i: remind you daily i am more than a brimming.
balance me best you can, still my voice will trickle:
wo de, wo de—remind you of this inheritance,
not stamen incarnate—remind you what is not yours.
IRENE HAN is a senior at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, California and alumnus of the Kenyon Young Writers’ Workshop. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and is largely inspired by surrealist artwork and midnight introspections.