Taipei after 8

By Michelle Xu

On the island I once was a child,
the mountain-mist floated into view
like a forgotten prayer. Everywhere,
persimmons glowed in the night-buzz and
my cheeks grew pink-a-boo with sleep.
My grandpa sat under the veranda,
his smoky fingers holding my soapy ones.

On the island I once was a child am a child,
I returned, the bus driver greeted me
with “妹妹”, and I imagined him
greeting his own sister with the same
jelloing familiarity. That day,
the windowed mountains were almost too clear,
trees solid against sky, sailing above houses.

On the island I once was a child am a child am someone’s child,
my mom called. Last night, the typhoon windowed out
and rain weaponed in, washing our floors, our sheets.
Then—the screen door in the turnip garden,
our house a small lake. She told me the papayas
split open, the dragonfruits dropped to the ground.
My grandpa glowed in the picture frame,
the blue mountains behind him like giants.

Author’s note: The line, “I once was a child am a child am someone’s child”, is taken from Victoria Chang’s poem, “I Once Was a Child”

Michelle Xu is a senior at Barnard College studying English and Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in plainchina, Cornell's Rainy Day, Habitat Magazine, Columbia 4x4 Magazine, and Columbia Quarto. She grew up in Shanghai and now lives in New York City.