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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."

#Identity          #Family          #Home          #Community

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Lauren hudd

2/3/23, 12:21 AM

Reading this story was realistic and relatble


2/2/23, 11:27 AM

"I collected little glimpses of the north to hoard away for the future, like treasure" is such a beautiful line!


2/2/23, 11:23 AM

What a fascinating piece!

2/2/23, 5:21 AM

One of my favorite pieces ever published on Write the World!


2/2/23, 4:41 AM

Well done Everett on this powerful piece. I hope you continue to write!


2/2/23, 4:40 AM

Well done Genevieve - what a beautiful and evocative piece of writing!

1/17/23, 2:15 AM

This is so beautiful


1/16/23, 3:52 PM

I love all of it. It’s so real and so many feelings are there.


1/5/23, 6:02 PM

This is amazing. Do not ever stop. That is really inspirational, the whole writing piece made me want to help.


1/3/23, 7:19 PM

This article was absolutely amazing! I am so thankful to live in a country where periods and sex are fairly normalized, but I will never forget to educate myself about the lack of education others have. It pains me to know that in countries like India, girls are still put down about what they where and how they act. It was very brave of you to share your voice, and I commend you endlessly for that.


12/8/22, 7:25 PM

I really love this! I, myself, am not black, but I know of a lot of good black people. Sadly, I will admit, at one time, I used to think of a black community filled with gangs and poverty. But I know now how perfectly capable it is to live together if only we got rid of the stereotype that is so, so wrong. I do hope you accomplish this. This will great for our country.

Sorry but can't share the name

12/7/22, 10:40 AM

Basically I don't know how to react.
All the conservatives should be reading this.........

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