To Paint Persimmons


a crow pits his beak against the fruit, the push
   and pull of intimacy an ease, a vulnerability.
   How lovely to pit our mouths
    against each other. Evan Isaiah,

if your monsters and martyrs are real, can you
   hear me now? How wrung we must have
   looked, clutched skin hewn from the earth;
    no sky loosening our deepest insecurities,

fear of being abandoned by the next family.
   They call us lovebirds for being brother
   and sister, for doing something right. I have
    dreams of letting go of your face so tired

animals can drink from you, a watering hole. You walk
   with our guardian. You are only thirteen, the year
   I realized if I held my shoulders straight
    like a hanger, I would own responsibility.

Don’t forget this. Our guardian flicks
   the dish soap into your face, says solemnly,
   “I wash my hands clean of the situation
    and relinquish my rights to the state.”

When crows make it over the horizon, they become
   dusty creatures, the way water loosens
   from our bodies after a deep excavation. I dip
    and recoil, shoulders curved and concaved

like a bird’s wings, crying. Brother, you shake
   with each step. How many men do you need
   to call father before one lifts your mother
    with his hands? How many persimmons—

raw, sharp, full of unfulfilled loss and promise—
   do you throw at the crows, hoping the hit
   at another animal will bind the air,
    giving you a forever family?

Sylvia Chan is an amputee-cyborg writer, educator, and activist. Her debut poetry collection is We Remain Traditional, and her foster care essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, and the Best American Nonrequired Reading 2019.
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