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Pockets of City

by Tiffany Leong (United States)

July 2021

Write the World Review

Audio: "Pockets of City," read by Tiffany Leong

I knew Chinatown best on Saturdays,
the November kind:
char siu sizzling in cold smoke and
snot-nosed kids rocking back-forth-back on Kumon stools and
the little old ladies
running errands and the rumor mill
across town all the same, with their
taut sour mouths and floral padded-jackets, their
smiling plastic bags rustling between—
whispering, withering,
the faint trickles of Guangdong sneaking behind
our red ears as if still searching, wandering,
waiting to call this city home.

We spent Sundays uptown, Asia on Argyle,
the day of the week Mom was most unbearable:
where sweltering July afternoons came
scorching car seats under leather-stuck thighs, came
pressing foreheads against the sweet cool glass of lobster tanks, came
dense heat rolling in and under our sun-beat arms at Co Tao’s barbershop,
arms beat, groceries hanging from our elbows—
Mom dragging us across the summer-baked asphalt
to the jewelers to the butchers to the cleaners
and back to Lakeshore, where
the silver edges of scrapers winked from above
and seagulls cried into our rolled-down windows, where
we closed our eyes and tasted the grappling wind, where
Mom’s car croaked a guitar-strummed Latin-drummed song as
she waited to call this city home.

Sterling Heights always greeted us barren,
suburban silence that stretched down flat streets,
another season of li xi tucked in Christmas cards.
And in my grandfather's garage, with a Marlboro dangling from
his wise, whiskered mouth,
I saw a frozen wasteland behind his thick rims: that
his mind was a sea away, craving the monsoon over Michigan snow, that
it was a white man’s war he won just to lose in their corporate jungle, that
he couldn’t order a coffee at McDonald’s with his En-grish, that
his grandkids never understood a lick of his stories, that
it was alright, that it was the side effect of a blessing,
because he had only ever come here
for us to call this country home.



Tiffany Leong, age 18, is a senior at Jones College Prep in Chicago, IL. Her hobbies consist of impulse online shopping, procrastinating, and reading screenplays. The latest inspiration of hers is Aaron Sorkin’s "The Social Network."

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Alefiya

5/17/22, 4:27 PM

Beautiful

Sweety

5/16/22, 11:40 AM

I am waiting with anxiety what does she doesto fight back these things which are very complicate to handle for a teenager...... I am Very anxious because I am in the same situation..... So I want to know what will she do.....

Somma

5/15/22, 3:16 PM

This is such a wonderful piece. I love it so much!

Rain Wind Thunderstorm

5/13/22, 10:46 AM

You are really good at writing. And at such a young age! If you don't mind me saying so, your writing style is warm and cozy. And also at the same time, very deep, meaningful and relatable. I especially loved the "The Reflection" part.

Sierra

5/13/22, 9:28 AM

I really wanna know what does she does to fight back these things which are hard to handle for a teenager.

Mira

5/11/22, 2:37 PM

I loved every word of this. Maybe because I am relating too hard. I hardly possess any of the love or filial piety I am expected to have towards my family. I am dubious of anything my grandmother says to me and have long learned to just swallow it all with a smile though I question how much I know. And. Just. Knowing. That you will be forgotten by your extended family for the rest of the year but still held up to their expectations. Thank you for writing this! I'll always remember a beautiful #ownvoices story :).

Srishti Roy

5/10/22, 6:57 AM

I really am curious about how she is gonna fight this situation and will she be able to fulfill her dreams which she once had

Alena

5/6/22, 2:03 PM

Ooh I really love this! What a great ending too. Fellow students, we've got this!

Alena

5/6/22, 1:53 PM

I love this piece so much. Novels and writing rarely makes me cry, but this was just too relatable.

Alena

5/6/22, 1:51 PM

This was so beautiful, and created such a detailed image in my mind!

glitterdays

5/6/22, 11:35 AM

I thought that was a truly insightful piece. As a teen writer myself, your words were a refreshing reminder of the meaning behind adolescence. Thank you for bringing your writing into the world, and hope to see more of it soon.