Meter Monday: "Jinan"

Meter Monday: "Jinan"

by Oriana Tang

 

for Pang Pu

 

 

My grandfather is used to smog, the days

so humid heat curls off the pavement

like smoke. Here, children cross the streets

 

 

with masks pressed over mouths. They say now

expectant mothers cup their bellies like handfuls

of water, afraid babies will spill over. The city

 

 

pulses. Here is the pet shop, the mangy dogs

that try to bite our hands, the toothless man

who reaches out to clasp my arm, rattling

 

 

his cup of coins. The smell of overripe

fruit and gasoline leaking under every wall.

At night, my grandfather unlatches

 

 

every window. We listen to passing cars, the crackle

of neighborhood televisions. My grandfather leans

over the coffee table with a crossword puzzle,

 

 

trying on his English. This city presses

brittle fingers to its mouth, yearns to contain

the hunger that swells inside. Through the windows

 

 

we trace no stars—but even in the clasp

of darkness we can see the buildings, blinking

still, the strings of headlights groping down the roads.



This work was previously published in PANK.


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