we are walking down húnán road together
on a random saturday in july the plane trees above us drip rain and unspoken
affirmations i am thinking about water and how this city is obsessed
with it is composed of it:
“south of the lake”
“east of the huángpǔ”
“upon the sea”
i am thinking of the river and how it is the lifesource of our city how we pull
money and sustenance and our identity from its depths use it to prove that imposing
and throaty french cannot contain the smoothness of
i am thinking about how this place is constructed
from concessions from patches of countries stitched
together sediment split
up into settlements—
but also about how the water is pervasive.
it clings in the air and settles
heavy on our skin we slosh along the waterfront of lùjiāzuǐ through puddles of yesterday’s
rain new meters of glass running up the sky like we tried to get so far
away from the old wàitān that we had to cross the river to do it.
the unfamiliar skyline reminds me of the years that have burrowed between now
and the last time i set foot on this side of the pacific ocean of the decades
that stretch between one bank of the huángpǔ and the other.
is wet the river is
what does it mean that we can bind together two halves
of a city that the shining gold of the bund and the crawling
skyscrapers of the new financial district can be cobbled
together into a whole because the body which divides
them is also their common denominator—
and what does it mean that we call this amalgamation beautiful?
i wonder if this logic still applies when the river becomes
an ocean the districts,
continents the city, a person.
you seem to believe so,
the way you cushioned me in a bed of water
before i even knew what it meant to be a child of any world
beyond that of your body delivered
me into a place of oxygen and contradiction
with a flow of fluid pored over my flaws
and my successes sprinkled the salve
of attention on me after flooding my skin with your cutting
words in the hopes that your efforts would propagate
me into a proper young woman;
even now at meal
after meal pour me cups
and cups of
April Li is a first-year Journalism and English student from Connecticut. She is passionate about diverse books, em dashes, and Costco.