Session Five Anthology

MENTOR: Paige Lewis


My body broke again and again.
I scorched my knees in a lucid baptism,
sucked the callouses out of my palms.

When my grandmother’s dog was still alive,
I dreamt of a citrus yolk in a basket
because he was her son and because

my mother learned to sift ritual from
creation myth, untangling fog from her hair.
Disappearing act disguised as daughterhood

and it outran us. (See, my grandmother
was a marathon runner.) When I was born,
she folded magic tricks into my mouth;

Said the blossoming season was upon us.
Come morning, I ate fatigue in the echo
of a woodland’s belly, hands baring a prune

and my yellowed tongue hanging all the way out.
I scrubbed away the fruit worms, held up a handful
to the light. From the cluster, my baby teeth

bloomed and fell to the floor in thick rhythm,
tiptoeing across the floor like mice. An incisor
for every daughter my grandmother couldn’t keep.


Stephanie Chang


i used to only know noodles
bound with gold paper, red string

backlit by fluorescent lights
and anise, a dusting of five-spice

no one ever told me
they could be stretched like

taffy? my father stares
at my western mouth

like it is a running faucet
tinny and cantankerous

and i clamp down
but water erupts between

the cracks of my
fingers, anyway

my father is from the south
where they eat rice instead of

noodles. a crop that grows in paddies
of shimmery labor rather than fields

of gold ease & wind. my father
stood on a beijing-bound train

16 hours four times a year
in search of stretchy gluten

cellophane, the smell of broth
a fable, curled around his laces

he studied hydraulics
how water bursts through sediment

ate cafeteria ramen that
promised he’d outlive his parents

today he sits in sawdust,
eating cubed papaya, but still

with thin grains of rice lodged
between his wishful teeth, and

i am bound in gold paper & red string,
backlit by fluorescent lights, star anise


Jenny Shen