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The Hole in the Bagel


Elena Lee























​​Note: 奶奶 and 爺爺 are the Chinese characters for grandmother and grandfather, respectively.


Elena Lee is a senior at Lake Oswego High School in Lake Oswego, Oregon. She was a winner in the Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Contest and received a Silver Key from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Additionally, she has published work in Rare Byrd Review and is the editor of her school’s literary magazine. When she is not writing poetry, she enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with friends.

奶奶, you used to bring

Canadian bagels in a jumbo Ziploc bag

every time you visited. Fluffier, sweeter, tastier

than ours, and never stale. Little pillows to

cushion the taste buds, spoiling us like only you

knew how. Like the puffy clouds of ice cream

you heaped in bowls that never rained. Like

the time you rocked my tears away on the breeze

when 爺爺 set off the smoke alarm.

Always swathing wounds in your velvet bandages

and silken blankets.


But I forgot that velvet tears and

silk frays, and bagels have holes. Watched

your spool unwinding, the unraveling tugging

and tugging at your fibers. Felt your velvet fade to

lace, then cobwebs. Tried to mend you

with Scotch tape and felt—

I couldn’t sew but

I think I thought tape could replace stitches. I

should’ve slid a pillow under your balding head. Should’ve

stifled your traitorous cells in wool. Should’ve smothered

the malignancy in your bloodstream, should’ve woven

a quilt for your stiffening limbs. But I didn’t

know how, and now

all my bagels come from

the shop in the strip mall.

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