By Amy J. Wong
The 10 hums like VHS static,
SGV airport planes buzz like mosquitoes,
My eyes and throat itchy from the thick air.
I take the Silver Line or Silver Streak downtown,
But sometimes I drive because I get tired
Of paying more to wait longer.
Men bike on the sidewalks of Garvey,
Relying on rusted chain, frame a few sizes too small,
Plastic bags hanging off handlebars.
At Garvey and Merced, my grandma’s best friend, Tai Po (Chia Lim)
On her daily walk was struck by a driver and
Assigned to the same nursing home as my grandma, Ah Po (Ly Phu Thai).
Her joy shrank within those walls until her body did too,
Passing months before Ah Po did,
Sister matriarchs joining Guan Yin.
These streets were not designed with our thrivance in mind,
Instead designed by those who stole land
And zoned maps to keep us out, oppressed, silenced.
Our DNA recognizes the violence our parents escaped from,
Violence devised by gwai lou (ghost/ devil men).
They are afraid of our power, as if we add
Too much color, flavor, justice into this world.
So we shape-shift, the water we are.
Past the wire fences, we flood Rio Hondo in waves,
Fracture concrete, seismically sink beneath soil.
In rhythm with mycelium, we bring life back to the quarry,
Our blood, our bodies, rivers remembering our way home.
We create new paths to get to where we need to go,
Free-form and free from these
Violence devised by gwai lou.
So we shape-shift,
The water we are,
Rivers remembering our way home.