Ode to the Cupboard Filled with

Plastic Bags 

by Huan He


        • The strange thing about apartments is that their
        • kitchens look the same: elementary school wood
        • a jury of cabinets, the same years of plastic bags
        • my mother keeps tightly wound as her hair bun. 
        • Keeper of licorice dreams, each a Miyazaki sketch
        • holding miniature worlds, brimming with Hi-chews
        • and dragon fruit and the black duck eggs that come
        • in packs of six. Like No-Face, who had had a face
        • but nobody remembered, each bag is pennies hoarded—
        • stuff, stuff, stuffed into itself— until they crown,
        • screaming for air:
              • The first one came from a mother named
              • 99 Ranch, a tall woman who wore church clothes
              • and blood red nails and believed in the sanctity
              • of children. In the storm, she could be found
              • slow dancing with God, the sun-kissed clouds,
              • the mourning crow on telephone wire; the second
              • from a newlywed named Costco, a nervous girl
              • who grew up making sure her shoelaces were tight
              • and found solace writing down her thoughts in a
              • leaf-filled diary; the third and the fourth from the twins
              • CVS and Safeway, who spoke in the tides of the Pacific
              • Gyre, donning glittered jetsam as they danced to Diana
              • Ross at the roller-rink: they can’t see us if we spin into oblivion,
              • they can’t hurt us if we are the wind.
Based in Los Angeles, Huan He is a PhD candidate in American Studies & Ethnicity and a poet at the University of Southern California. His poetry explores race, sexuality, intimacy, and belonging from the perspective of a queer Chinese American raised by the prairies. His creative work has appeared in or is forthcoming in The Stonefence Review and wildness.