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An Abecedarian for Szechuan

Sabrina Mei

An Abecedarian for Szechuan
a poem by Sabrina Mei

America doesn’t smell like this, was my first thought coming

back after seven years, seven years inking myself redwhiteblue.

Cigarette butts fill the gaps between pavement, diseased

daisies in this industrial meadow.

Enter here:

Follow the familiar curve of your grandmother’s eyelid to your own, kiss her

gentle brow, kiss

hands that pucker from monsoons of acid past.

If her love is the bowls of fruit on your nightstand, half past eight, or cold

jade pressed into palm, you must

know that it is

love, all the same.

Mandarin may sometimes feel like sandpaper against skin, and

niceties slip through the cracks that seem to show

over and over in quiet

places. Your memory will be

quite selective—you will

remember the conversations that flited between yellowed walls: How

sad it is that she has an accent. You can

trace stitched satin in the damask that flowers across your pillow,

under your sheets. You will feel as though it is all in

vain, this trying, all this trying, but you must try to see this

wrinkled love.

Xiǎo gū niang, little princess, little girl, you must

yell. You must grow like the

zhǎng that lingers on your mother’s tongue.

"An Abecedarian for Szechuan" explores the bittersweet relationship between immigrant and homeland, and the generational burden that this bond carries.


Sabrina Mei is a junior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD. Her work has previously been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, John Hopkins University, Montpelier Arts Center, and the Yellow Barn Studio. In her spare time, she enjoys rereading Sherlock Holmes and watching an objectively excessive amount of cooking videos. You can find her on instagram @s.abrinamei.

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