by Audrey Ying
Honorable Mention – Flash 405, August 2020: “Invented Language”
I hear pain first when it comes. We are carefully cracking open its tough shell over the kitchen table then. Maybe that is why I remember the sound well when it escapes my mother’s tongue: “pistachio” or open (kai, 開) – heart (xin, 心) – fruit (guo, 果).
She then says: hush, every lake (hu, 湖) is made of two parts—water (shui, 氵) moving recklessly (hu, 胡) to hide its mud. When it settles, the history behind a generation that detests prayer rises. How a mother’s mother’s mother once knelt through a yard of broken glass to protect the second heart inside her.
This is what war does. It takes everything that was once good and gives it new meaning. Then later, how she was seen in her red wedding dress with hair tangled like broken cassette tapes, neck yanked to one side, trachea slammed shut, taken. Here, it is the rope that kills two with one knot.
pistachio, a translation is equal parts brutal and beautiful.
Growing up in an ever-changing America, Audrey Ying is an aspiring poet on a quest to pinpoint whether she feels more Asian or more American. Her work pulls from her obsession with meshing the wordplay, history, and mythology of both her identities.
Photo credit: Mae Mu