‘Heritage’, First Place in Poetry


by Jonathan Chen

How even stone pillars can crumble.
How a family’s hopes blossom into
bitter fruit in the sun.
How, in a sea of Western
colors, you’ll forget
the one you wore each day.
You’ll let go of a place
where steam rose into sad clothes
that told the story of the woman
who lived on the 8th floor,
chase after loose kites in the summer wind.
You’ll hold onto what you know:
forks and knives,
five vowels but never six.
Until one day the kids will come,
seeds you dropped along the way.
They’ll want to meet
yeye & nainai, jiejie & gege,
pull and pull on their wet paper skin
until it rips into years you dream of crawling into.