By Hannah Fenlon
I carry my mother,
who carried me.
I carry tradition,
I am the seaweed from the wet sand of Weihai
Picked and dried by hand
your aunt’s labor.
I am those wet strands
uniting the branches
of past, present,
I am the threads
weaving through your father’s
stitching together an ever growing quilt.
I stretch from his heart
to his brain
where medicine had failed.
Was it hard to let go
of what connected us for those nine months;
of what connected your stories with mine;
merging your past with my future?
I only know what I’ve been told.
I’ll never know a summer night spent
folding soft dough over mounds of meat,
floured hands and wistful hearts,
a soft familiar voice
floating over the radio.
I’ll never know mornings on the subway,
riding to Stuyvesant,
breakfast sandwich pressed into your hand by your mother
her wish wrapped in tinfoil
that you return safely from school.
I’ll never know afternoons
spent by your father’s hospital bed
watching his chest rise
waiting for words,
Your father who left before
his filial duty was done–
The white haired should never bury
we float with the wind
in opposite directions.
I am rushing forward,
while you long to go back,
while you long for more time.
I float with the wind
that connects stitches with seaweed,
that connects soy sauce and soda bread,
that connects me to you.
Hannah Fenlon is a junior at Horace Greeley High School. This poem was awarded a prize in the 2016 Chappaqua Library Young Writers Contest.