An Ending

Bring me closer to the beginning.

              As if I could retouch the town with all

its unmoving parts, redrag palms

              of heat across your grandfather’s sunburnt

porch. The way the sky slid open

              & released; our skin veined with rain,

mouths like gaping wells. That back

              trail snaked from screen door to river.

River & its movement snaked

              to bodies. Boys within a swarm of blinking

minnows & boys living loudly.

              Pockets full of unshined pennies

& corner store popsicles on tongue.

              Brake of bike on ridge & your grandfather

hauling us over globed shoulders.

              His footsteps pressed into cobblestone,

into descent, leaving faces turned

              to that ageless horizon. So we splintered

eyes with midsummer light, mistook

              everything temporary as permanent;

turned backs to that flock of crows

              flown in without pause, their lining

of black resting upon the rot

              of your grandfather’s fence. The way

they sang outside his window

              & the way we covered our ears. The way

the clock on his white-worn

              walls ticked louder & the way we still

slipped through seamless days.

              How we wore bodies to exhaust

knowing the home we marked

              upon his chest, small heads pressed

to heartbeat until Earth broke

              open for a man & all our softened ways.

Jessica Xu is a junior in high school living in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been honored by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the National Poetry Quarterly, the Poetry Foundation of the UK, among others. Her poetry can be found in The Apprentice Writer, The Rising Phoenix Review, Sooth Swarm Journal, and elsewhere. She edits for the McKinley Review and reads poetry for Bitter Melon Magazine.