Thalassophobia

By Nancy Huang

meaning fear of the sea. derived from the greeks. as if the city cared. glistening from its port. as if water ever stopped an empire. in shanghai our maid would cook us pai gu with broccoli, steaming rice and golden fish, treasure soups. oil coating our tongues in a thick film. we had to be reminded, you see. of the past. of where we came from. to the west the ocean broke in a wave collapse. can you picture the water creaking open. splitting in half. giving birth to the land. this city. “upon-the-sea.” the water fanning out, revealing a country now. desert stretches and forest fires. the sea foaming around the continent. sweeter foods. different accents spiraling above our heads. if you zoom way out now, you’ll see the globe. half-shade. golden light. satellites circling everyone you will ever know. nan nan, there’s no such thing as a horizon. the sun doesn’t move from its spot. that’s a lie they told you when you were younger; that something was at the center of it all. you never needed to see the sky to breathe. the ocean can exist on its own. nan nan, there’s nothing above our heads except air. except empty. except everything we were made of. everything we came from. i had to be reminded, you see.


Nancy Huang is the winner of the 2016 Write Blood Poetry Chapbook contest, an Andrew Julius Gutow Academy of American Poets Prize, a James F. Parker Award in Poetry, and a winner of the Michigan Young Playwrights Festival.