Literary Orphans

Brief Encounters with a Ghost by Grace Zhang

she often takes showers

late at night,

when you need her most.

comes fumbling out

half-apologetically,

humming semi-sweet aphorisms

the size of grapefruit

— like the ones she used

to cut for you by

kerosene as a child.

in a flurry,

she tells you about

the pomegranate seeds

she copped for free

at a gas station back in Xiamen,

remember –

remember, lei lei, how I fed you those

when you were 4 and

it made you stop crying? I

swallow and don’t tell her that

she carved out all those bits

when she left, juice

the color of

blood on pavement

drizzling down the walls of

a pomegranate shell,

a wide

open

body.

it’s been 13 years.

she slips into dialect.

13 years

to the infinite softness

in the kitchen that shaped

a whole childhood, the rhythm

of conversation & cutting board

unfurling under moonlight,

transcending across

two different generations,

two different worlds,

as she hacked at a watermelon

till its insides were raw,

humming that hard work is bitter,

but the fruit is sweet.

O Typekey Divider

–Art by Chelsea Sturgill