Letter to My Grandparents
I do not know your way of life, of waiting once a year
for meat, having a hunger in your belly, which
brought us here. Mother says, I have your eyes.
When did you realize? For me, it was after graduation,
Ivy League, medical degree. What seems like the way up
is really no way down. America is a country built
on paradoxes. Streets paved with anything but gold.
Instead, Michigan pothole grinds into my mother’s
back. In the Lyft, the radio comes on. I marinate in
memories, so malleable. Transported home to a time
I was feverish. Hospital bills more frightening
than sick child. In the car, we drove for miles going
nowhere. Back then, I can’t remember it now,
but I must have dreamed in lulling Mandarin.
Through my lens, I wonder if you ever questioned
your choice of anchorage. Which, if any, of your
promises survived immigration? Is it me/enough?
Ellen Zhang is a student at Harvard Medical School who has studied under Pulitzer Prize winner Jorie Graham, poet Rosebud Ben-Oni, and poet Josh Bell. She has been recognized by the 2022 DeBakey Poetry Prize, 2022 Dibase Poetry Contest, and as a 2019 National Student Poet Semifinalist. Her works appear or are forthcoming in Rappahannock Review, Southward Literary Journal, Hekton International, and elsewhere.