Cleo Qian


Jen Mei Soong

No Stone in It

Cleo Qian

Swallow your old stone, yes.

Swallow the gold sunshine bent to the right and crooked.

Swallow the heavy feather from the hen who laid
the egg by the cock who mauled the feet
of your grandmother, splitting
the canyon of the past.

Back in my country, we steam chicken feet until tender,
then braise them in starched wine aged for ten years or longer.

On the couch with the color
that takes all our names,

Michelle lifts my bag
which is heavy.

Let’s see—her voice issues from a stomach with no stone in it.

Perhaps instead of a stone, there exists an enormous lake.

Let’s see what makes this heavy.

Jade bottle leaking; stolen currency of a desperate life;
violet beach flower, wilted;
stopped breath of my lost ancients.

                                                                        One by one she weighs them.
                                                                        Proprioception—her hands.

Her judgment: Thirst is heavy to carry.

I raise my arms, newborn, to receive
what’s returned to me—

Lightness, her lesson to me how to find it, hooked
back onto my fingers like love, love

back when it had not yet happened to me

so I had no fear for it.

Cleo Qian (she/her) is a writer originally from California. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in ZYZZYVA, The Sun, Pleiades, B O D Y and several other outlets. She is the author of the story collection LET’S GO LET’S GO LET’S GO, (Tin House), recently published in August 2023.