Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

Issue 3 | Summer 2011

Clara Changxin Fang

Shanghai, Late September

Summer stretches like aluminum pressed between thick sheets of
humidity. Over towering high rises, clouds flag like dish towels
perpetually hung out to dry. We’d fry our eggs on the blacktop
but there isn’t enough sun. My books are soggy as my brain. The latter
I could eat like steamed buns for breakfast. Wrapped in lettuce
and dipped in vinegar I’ll be in paradise. I have forgotten
how to sweat. Moisture clings to me like film. Bamboo
mats smelling of grass absorb the heat of our bodies.
Night after night mosquito bites pearl on our limbs
like bracelets. Mornings we awake soaked as if
we had spent all night running. In the street,
a woman sells vegetables on the trunk
of her bicycle, leaves bruised and decaying
like old fruit. Old men paddle rickshaws,
their shirts open to the wind. Across
the river, a sea change looms in the shape
of Martian skyscrapers lit by mid-century
promises, the wealth of China shiny
as a newly minted coin. When Fall comes,
there is no announcement of trees
suddenly flaring into flower,
or a tented sky deepening towards night,
Only a precipitous descent—
tenements hunkering by the river—
rain, a chill pill,
a rattling within.