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Needle pricks—

dives through snowy fabric,

pulls thread that snares and tangles.

Red against white:

berries in frost on the Lunar New Year.

Firecrackers pop and lanterns hang

like ruby moons. Smoky trails whisper

around the iron-wrought gates, sparklers painting

dragon sigils against the night.

A jade necklace pulses against my chest

like a second heartbeat.

Needle pricks—

this time my hand slips.

The tip breaks skin,

blood dripping to stain the fabric.

Red against white:

cheeks flushed from cold,

frostbite nipping at toes under threadbare blankets.

Scarlet ink on test papers,

nails pierce skin as textbooks swim before hazy eyes

in a nation that begs sacrifice of a childhood to escape.

Crimson passports on freezing marble of immigration desks,

hearts alight with hope that warms us through frigid days

as we chase a promise lost in this new land.

Needle pricks—

drags thread along a tapestry

started long before I was born.

Red against white:

for holly at Christmas,

and summers spitting stars like cherry pits.

I lay string along chalk marks on the fabric

that mark how much farther I have to go.

To build the dream my parents could not,

prick by prick.

Stitch by stitch.

Mira Jiang is a high school senior from Coppell, Texas. Her work has been published by or is forthcoming in publications such as Flash Fiction Online, Paper Lanterns, and Hobart and recognized by the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest and the Geek Partnership Society. She can often be found reading in trees or dancing in empty studio rooms.

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