10.3 / May & June 2015


     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.

Oriana Tang grew up in New Jersey. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Best Teen Writing of 2014,The Sierra Nevada Review, Winter Tangerine Review, and The Adroit Journal, where she is currently a poetry reader. She will be attending Yale University in the fall.
10.3 / May & June 2015