San Francisco, USA
Dear No One,
days like this pass as sunlight through windowpanes--
soft, struggling. the satin pothos wilts.
this at midnight, bathed in refrigerator light, resembles a self-portrait.
i unfurled maps and maps to get here. pointed at homelands i’ve never been to,
claimed topographies with pins and notes and drawn constructions of belonging.
i am writing letters to everyone i know.
lost friends, half-loves, ghosts of family.
i have not needed for so long, and there is so much ink
i could drown in it.
these are the fragments of a life wanting to break out of a beating chest.
i decide between sealing them in and setting them free, everything unspilling
like steeped tea out the kettle, like memories upon re-entering a childhood home.
to you, my first word.
爱 (ai). to you, my favorite ink color, konpeki blue.
all these things i’m sending--
a sip of grand marnier, piazza navona at sunset, my chinese name
—will be signed and delivered
with all the 爱 (ai) in the world.
at night, when i pull out the envelopes,
i glance out the window into the darkness,
and everywhere, there is the city. and in these pages,
everywhere, the city is on fire.
Liwen Xu is a first-generation Chinese American writer, based in the SF Bay Area. Her work has appeared in Model Minority, Mangrove, and Outrageous Fortune. During quarantine, she’s running park trails, stress-baking mochi muffins, and curating a haiku food Instagram @bon_appepoetry.