70 and sunny
air laced with exhaust
a red towel i have unrolled
threaded with seed ants—

that summer in beijing
when grandpa became sick
my sister and i
would feed him soup
i never liked the mosquitos
buzzing around my spoon
and i was always scared
by the tubes they put in his nose
his varicose veins
and how he would cough
for minutes on end

when mama stopped taking us to see him
we would go to the yard every day at three
to bury all the dead bees
paint headstones
and write tiny eulogies with our tiny hands

i asked my sister how i could hold
time in my fist—

when the air is heavy and damp
i still go back sometimes


Joyce Ker is a student at Lynbrook High School in California. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Nancy Thorpe Poetry Contest. Ker is a California Arts Scholar and has attended the Iowa Young Writers' Studio. In her free time, she enjoys listening to K-pop.