We’re told that she climbed the mountain every evening.
She sometimes slit the throats of boars, or she sewed
ten shirts in one day. Before that, she swam
across some sea or another, pregnant, to seek an elsewhere,
and who could blame her?
Didn’t matter, because no matter where she went,
she was always a guest, didn’t matter
that she pressed five hundred herbs into her grandchildren’s
comic books or that she stirred binding agents into soups
among the taro and carrots. She cut
roots into boiling pots, glutamate on her tongue, to say
something that never said anything about poison,
which was the way her husband died, which
died in her gut.
When I knew her, she said nothing of any hillside.
Other people did it for her. I see her as I always saw her:
at the brown table, mouth on a bowl of broth,
fork into the flesh of steamed white fish.
Julie Feng is a writer and educator. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Pacifica Literary Review, Quaint Magazine, A River & Sound Review, and more. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Award, the Arthur Oberg Poetry Prize, the Joan Grayston Poetry Prize, and the Meg Greenfield Essay Award. Julie is originally from Taiwan, based in Seattle, and teaches in Morocco.