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an american birth


i am thrust from white-tiled, Purell thighs crying for my mother, Taiwan;

her caresses laden with longing,

sighs slipping into the gutters of her paved streets.

i enter this world with eyes rooted in soil

learning that my cries tunnel so deep into the earth,

it splinters. a stray dog (xiao-hei) watches me,

sniffs my newborn body, and retreats.

my mother and i seldom speak but when we do,

it is in mind-numbing circles

around the things she hates in Chinese,

the things i love in English, both in a place

that has become the opposite of Home.

i fall asleep to the sound of Independence

and dream of heat stuffed in my mouth, lantern lights

burning through my stomach, coal shoveled into an inferno of prayers.

i wake up in two halves: one pulling and the other gone.

i reach for my mother’s hand, but it turns pearl

and polished to obsession; my fingers slip and i am falling,

falling, back into the beginning, between charred thighs.

i cry,

and cry.

Alicia Hsu is a Taiwanese-American senior in New York. Her work has appeared in Eunoia Review, Blue Marble Review, and more. When she isn’t dreaming up new stories or escaping in a fantasy novel, you can find her watching nostalgic movies and taking walks with her two dogs.

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