it’s not sweet at all, mama says in chinese. tian— 甜, chinese for sweet, dulcet and candied. 田, for fields and their gold flowers, for the verb 填, to fill. the boy behind the cash register today said i was pretty and i couldn’t quite meet his eyes. he pressed some bills and a penny into my hand. i briefly saw his smile. his shoes were white. these words are not unfamiliar— pretty, hot, cute, lovely— as in nice ass— empty— look at that short skirt! i think these flowers are much more fitting, all fluid and gold and concrete. maybe i will show him that i am not pretty. the chinese mothers think i am tian. sweet, figuratively, like a cinnamon scone that they sink their teeth into, offer their sons to my chest. behind their mothers’ backs, the sons teach me to inch the tights off my thighs and spit into my collarbone. tian— saliva does not make me full. i deflate like a glass balloon. today, it’s easy to slip into cliches. the word empty seeming empty of itself.
Kristine Ma is a writer and high school senior hailing from Michigan. She received three national gold medals and several other recognitions from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Additionally, her poetry has been recognized by the Young Poets Network and appears in Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Hunger, Up North Lit, and The Indianapolis Review, among others.