Art by Adrian Wong
Roses bloom through cracks of Linh Street,
Break through crumbling concrete,
In sunburnt oranges and bloody reds;
Their stems droop—heads grazing the gravel,
Heavy with fluffy fat petals
And sand we scooped into their mouths.
Summer rain drives toads off Linh Street;
They sit with me watching television,
Burping and farting on my tiles in place of my father.
Across the world, he said to leave them be;
They are friends of a sky god,
They bring water and wind.
High noon turns Linh Street into a ghost town.
The heat, an angry carnivorous thing,
Seeps into our porous walls
And writhes underneath our skin.
It turns over stones and shadows—
The air is opaque yellow in its wake.
On Linh Street, the blood
From my knee where I scraped my skin against the rocks
Left brown ashes on the ground.
I searched for my neighbor’s blood
Because she is tall and falls easy in the wind.
My mom, winged sandals adorning her feet,
Glides across cracked pavement;
She only knows the ground
From the dust brushing her toes.
Love lines the fringes of Linh Street like wet lace.
It spends nights in my living room,
Soaks in my mom’s mango mousse,
Steams in her sweet-braised pork belly,
Sticks on my teeth like sweet sesame candy
On our tea-stained altar.
It wraps around my ankles as I run on gravel;
When I fall and bleed again, it does not hurt.