Her flaming cap is stilled
in grains of black and white,
but those sparks still flicker in her gaze,
a dance that breaks the lull with beats
that sing about her fire.
Her printed braids map rivers
interweaving with our childhoods
and ripple down her tongue into “Yangtze,”
one part her blue knitted sheep,
one part her scraping green wood needles.
Her calloused fingers bloom with hues,
survivors from monochrome pasts,
and brush against the pages
like wind croons to the grasses.
They murmur to the concrete towers:
Save some color for our futures. 


Leave some mark, some sign:
breadcrumbs you won’t see again
See the tilting street lamp
casting that same burnt yellow
as all the rest but
at a different angle
The tree, the shrub, the fence
become the shadowed faces
you left once upon a time.
So notably different that
you’ll note and soon forget
Walk deeper in your circles
Tell yourself:
That “wander” is not “lost”
That soft mud beneath your feet
reminds you of warm hands
That you aren’t forgetting
what it is to hear “I love you”
That the door at home is waiting
because you are not lost.

HELEN QIAN is a high school junior in Rockville, Maryland. Her writing appears in Poetry Quarterly and the Eunoia Review, and she has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and the Bethesda Urban Partnership. In her free time, she’s usually painting, reading, or trying to craft more interesting stories from less interesting personal experiences.