Julie Feng


Motorcycle exhaust wafts across the mango
trees—it’s the city marsh. There, the street is shot
with cracks in the concrete and wooden carts.
The balcony rails rusting in tangerine sun, the slivers
of cigarettes in steppe scatter, the rushes and sedges
of men in straw hats, browned teeth, burnt skin.
I never really left. Those were the kind of summers
that could scythe down a girl with sheer heat. I swayed
in the wind, a thread of bending green. The summers here
are trimmed and clipped, watered down, flecked with bouquets
of bicycles and neat front yards. The air here
drifts with dandelion seeds, children’s mild wishes.
Although there is one sharpness that burns the roots
of my nasal cavity. It is both bite and bloom.
When I was young, I sketched grass as spikes
because I had never seen cut grass. When I came here,
away from lush reed and wild green, I saw lawn
for what it really was—thatched distress.