Isabella Wang

He didn’t want another mouthful
of boiled tree bark. Nothing
his grandmother did
or said could calm him.

She tried caressing him,
beating him, stripping him naked
and leaving him out to bask
in the snow.

She dug out the jar of meat
curing underground
for the New Year’s, scooped
marinated veal from the salty brine,

mixed it with braised cabbage
and the last of their rice for the winter,
served it to him head bowed— a peace
offering to an angry god.

One year before she died,
my father bought her train tickets
to the city, presented her
with roasted duck,

lamb stew, ginseng tea.
No more teeth left, she sucked
on shards of greasy skin
dipped in oyster sauce,

drawing flavour before spitting
the gloopy chunks.
He sat and watched
as she wrapped

what she had spat
in bits of tissue, stuffing
them down her pant leg pockets
to save for later.

Isabella Wang: I am an emerging Chinese-Canadian writer living in Vancouver B.C. My poetry and prose have appeared previously in The New Quarterly and Looseleaf Magazine. At 17, I am the youngest writer to be shortlisted for The New Quarterly’s 2017 Edna Staebler Essay Contest. I will be studying English at SFU in the fall of 2018, while serving as an intern for Room Magazine.

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