Amy Liu

On a Queens balcony, grandmother makes a woman of me: she

unbraids my hair and presses my hands into a pot of loess;

from this, we come forth. Nüwa molded men from this yellow

earth; she held up the heavens         and I turn to      the pale clouds,

searching for meaning. I daydream not of Nüwa’s

            smelted stones and sculptor’s fingers but of        the pale boy

at the corner store          who taught me his disjointed tale of women

and painted in black and blue,           of the way his

hands carved into me                 and wrote their own chapter.

Grandmother says that all stories of men and boys begin with

the cleavage of their rough bodies from iron mud that runs red

the moment they are born,

that we write the endings to the tragedies they mistakenly

begin. Nüwa drained the surging floods and

quilted back together an azure sky; it is

us women who heal these earthen wounds, granddaughter.

I let loess fall from my fingertips beneath

the afternoon sun and wonder if

an epilogue awaits me;                                       I close my eyes

            and behind the raven lashes inherited from         grandmother

is Nüwa,           marked in beautiful lines,           forging strength.

That night, I ink my own womanhood onto yellowed paper,

press it to my steadfast heart, and exhale into Nüwa’s reborn sky.

AMY LIU is a high school student and an aspiring writer. She has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, among others. She is an editor at her school newspaper and enjoys playing the piano and baking in her spare time.