by sylvia chan
Our guardian always felt my torso: took twenty years,
filtered through his hands. His mouth a stilted breath,
pinched our sides: my friction an electricity
as if this was tenderness. And his grit?
Enough to foster a hate for our clean sheets, stacked books, writings—
the June Jordan, our tire swing in the dusklight.
I try to do right by my siblings,
to be strong. To be true like you.
Lady Justice, which monster Martyr
will you take? I see David, writing the obscenities,
an outsider—to call him a good father—
A noble man who had taken A tripwire.
bad kids to pinch into pearls. For the fostered, we’re
Complicit in how he raised pining towards
his hands for Evan Isaiah’s neck
until he felt the chokehold. How he unbuttoned
My jeans Until I felt his member
prick my navel. Was there nobody else?
One kid, two kids, three—
If Evan Isaiah and I to tell Rose, had gotten there in time our sister.
No easy way to say it: we hear
the static of the policeman’s radio
And wonder how to stitch our guardian, our sister back together. throwing the Glock pistol His hands seize on the linoleum floor.
Turn towards us.
as if he can’t control
them. He keeps wringing.
Sylvia Chan hails from the San Francisco East Bay, where she performed as a jazz pianist. She lives in Tucson, where she teaches in the Writing Program at the University of Arizona and serves as court advocate for foster kids in Pima County and nonfiction editor at Entropy. Her debut poetry collection is We Remain Traditional (Center for Literary Publishing 2018), and her essays appear in Prairie Schooner, The Rumpus, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2019.