Jane Wong

In the Future, the Garden Grows Over Everything

In the future, the garden grows over everything, sweet potato vines kissing
windshield wipers, pollen painting a factory of sneakers, nasturtium peppering
our nostrils floral. The sea is ladybug swamped, the highway heavy with swan’s
neck moss. No cars, no delivery trucks, no cell towers signaling for what we
used to desire. This world is a tangled mat of water spinach, of simmering rose
dew, of hungry velvet things, of algae licking the bellies of beetles, softening
a worry. Twilight trimmed, shadows of scallions shift, their onion scent brushing
my damp neck clean. In slick toadflax light, fireflies crown each closing nyctinastic
leaf, each fluttering eyelid turning in for safe keeping. In our half house half garden,
my dream daughter sits atop a table, legs pothos dangling, applying blush along
the snapping apples of her cheeks, all rosa peace, all damask. The light streaming
in is so soft, I kiss our organs all at once, ruddy radicles in orchestral bloom.

Immigration, 1983

The dirt swooning behind my ear was as soft as eye shadow leaving
a reminder of splitting wood in blush-colored fog, leaving
splinters of my village self, loosening like a baby tooth, roots
rotten, horseflies hollering their sticky cries don’t leave, don’t leave,
pecking my neck in humid longing. And did I lean into this buzzing loss,
my gilded guilt in the sun of another country? To be married and leave
all that I knew, the long manes of scallions braiding their affection,
for a white taffeta gown I touched but never bought, its price tag leaving
me a stricken slop. The last day, the last hour, the last minute,
from dirt road sandal stomp to factory bell city song, leaving
was swaying in me, familiar. The airport’s cold face shone before me and
I kissed it, hot with the broth of memory. I packed one bag, leaving
behind the fly who followed me, Jin Ai, Jin Ai, its little wings calling, parting
or closing borders who can tell, what will you miss, what will you kiss now?

Jane Wong is the author of Overpour from Action Books (2016), and How to Not Be Afraid of Everything, which is forthcoming from Alice James Books (2021). She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University.