Fall 2021 Poetry

waxing&waning down capital cul-de-sacs

by Katherine Wong

Are you satisfied? Ma asks. Her palms are dusted with
speckled snow, finely-grated grains that sit heavy on the hand.
I am not. My stomach sits like the extracted egg yolks
simmering in rose-flavored wine, acidic in its neurotic nature.
Molding mooncakes should come easily to people like us,
people who massage the dirt for gold, palms unfamiliar with
paper’s grimy edges. I knead the dough. Await the eclipse.
There are crescents lodged under the whites of my fingernails.
Ma has a look of waning distaste, forehead wrinkled into the
raised ridges of calligraphed characters. A permanent stamp.
Her arms are sore from years of labor, grinding lotus seeds
into a sticky paste, plowing until ragged lines grow dark with
age. She tells me I’ll be like that, too. It must be trouble-free
living on the moon, golden goddess with a pet hare, and I find
myself dreaming about a home in a crater. Dream-me lives in a
marbled manor with silk tapestries, drinking out of a stolen
goblet of elixir. But our East Coast suburban neighborhood
isn’t that. I live in a floating box, not like the moon with her
pulsing vocation, but a car that steers through the I-86
without an ending. The popcorn ceiling reeks of mold, the
four-seat sedan is too cramped, and I want to fly on a
spaceship. Ma is right — I sit in a vehicle sinking in salt waves.

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