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.