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.