Audio: "goldfish," read by Lily Wang
for two cents, the man
answering will reach into the ocean
open another sail & draw
a second sky. in this picture
the sky was never just blue
but pink & yellow & orange long before
sunset—in your version of the story, lao lao,
the bottle makes it across
oceans & will wait on gaping sands for the promise
that even a family of dandelion hopes
rooted in the present
will make their way back on August winds.
for a hundred ren min bi, the girl
will pirate away the gold,
will wish you, lao lao, “fortune like the east sea
& a lifetime like the south mountain.” if these words
come out with static, then nine years
has drifted a summer into a stranger, between us
is the trans-pacific cable & there’s a girl yelling
in background, her sand castle was melting
too early, she was lost in the currents
between us, our paper card promises, a deep ultramarine.
for three thousand dollars, mama
will buy the ticket. one-way & not home.
in the wrinkles of her eyes
there are long nights & somehow we still fit
two shots, polymer masks, a thousand
paper cranes & still everything
is left behind. the sky
should have been grey. in your stories
it’s always the ones smoking delicate arcs
& curves of dreams,
life, oxford comma before
stage 4 lung cancer, who disappear
into silence, into grey.
but lao lao, what if people become stones.
what if they sink after a few skips, even in this rain
only the bottle is allowed
to be made of glass.
for one inch of time, the girl
chasing the leaving wave, will swim across
the glass earth & find the blurring,
in her story there is a bottle, inside:
a goldfish & two cents.
Lily Wang is a 16 year old living near the New Jersey shore. She often goes there to rollerblade or just to look around. With this piece, she hoped to write about the ocean that’s always there and the horizon that can bring everything closer.
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9/24/22, 2:13 PM
Was this inspired by flights over Iceland?
9/24/22, 10:04 AM
Amazing. I love it.
9/23/22, 7:34 AM
This is just so good!!!! "The air has been poisoned' I love how you describe things! Congrats :))
9/23/22, 7:32 AM
Love the message! The way you prompt the readers to rethink over 'is anything free' is so effective and the ending is...gorgeous.
9/23/22, 7:30 AM
Gosh, Antara...this is really beautiful! I love your use of language, and the anecdotes were so effective!! Congrats so much :))
9/22/22, 9:30 PM
I love it! Especially the part where you say if humans can control the world, they can control themselves too!
Keep up the brilliant writing!
9/22/22, 5:22 PM
Poignant and so beautifully written!
9/22/22, 5:19 PM
I love the flow, this is gorgeously written! Great piece!
9/22/22, 5:17 PM
Life really is all about the little things and you wrote about them in a beautiful way!
9/22/22, 5:16 PM
This is a lovely piece, Keren-Happuch! It provokes such a magical and dreamy feeling.
9/19/22, 5:47 PM
Oh my god, the part about changing the mindset given the pre-existing beliefs drilled in by those around us... Even we often hesitate to have these conversations at times amongst friends as this topic is seldom more than a subject of twss jokes. You put it into words brilliantly!
9/17/22, 6:46 PM
this was thought-provoking! I particularly enjoyed how you connected existentialism to the topic. it provides a different perspective.