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'Postcards from the Living' by poet Jenny Qi

Jenny Qi is a Chinese-American poet living in San Francisco. Her book of poetry "Focal Point" was published in 2021 by STB.

Postcards from the Living

I light incense on the stovetop, trail cinders

through an empty house. I’ve decided to believe

in the power of ashes: Here I am,

buying fruit, mending torn shirts, brushing teeth

in cramped bathrooms, living

someplace new. Wish you were here.

I sprinkle sandalwood dust on the ribbon

from my first 5K, the token from my first solo trip—

milestones so small and unremarkable,

only you could understand and be proud.

Remember world-history class, how I translated

lectures to you each night, partly to practice,

partly to keep you with me? Every day,

there’s so much new I want to show you,

like the spongy tang of injera, pork belly

banh mi melting like butter on the tongue,

all these places I have traveled without you

so I can forget how without you I am.

Remember when I was 10 and hateful, trying

too hard to be cool, how in a rare moment

you said all you wanted was for me to love

my life, my only life, this life you started?

Here, look how the clouds blush so fiercely;

the stark blue winter, so cold and bright.