language bends the day that grandma goes:
a text in the afternoon from mom that
grandma pass away the grammar is not a sign
of anything; this is the way she speaks writes
after nearly thirty years. when I call her it is all
hysterics in chinese (it is female, it is hereditary
it is beyond reach)
it is guttural – grandma has gone away, she has
departed, the euphemisms translate they
are slipping between now they
renounce geography – time resists the looking glass
no one gazes at anything.

grandmother was indulgent
in many ways; she demanded the land and inheritance
be left to the oldest son when grandfather
passed while chinese law sought to split it in three.
the girls obliged because this is the way
that they keep her love – this is the way
that the veins of a shrouded history remain – brilliant,
we must mourn the violent pain
when it chooses to speak.

sitting for days, lighting incense and folding delicate
gold red parchment colored paper for burning.
a bat is flying in the house on the second floor;
my mother catches it in a plastic bag takes a photo
on her phone and witnesses the semblance of a youthful
woman in the shadows of the bag – she displays it
after the funeral
for all the cousins and aunties and declares
this is mom; she came to let us know that she is leaving
by flight look look she is young again she is
beautiful again she was here.

Poetry: steph chin
Illustration: Elizabeth Mattus

steph chin is a Chinese American writer based in Brooklyn.