Ten years after she pawned her shadow
for its stitching, my mother went back to Shanghai
to see if my grandmother could make her a new one.
If anyone can do it, she told me, it would be my mother
that could do it. Before she left, she packed the skins
of things that had once been precious to her young
eyes. The key to the first apartment we’d lived in
in America, the duvet cover she’d turned into
a wedding dress for a play I’d been in in sixth grade.
Pressed flowers, wet desire, the skim-milk skin
of the rain she had stood beneath that first Friday
afternoon, when her ankles were newly unmoored
to the pavement, her fingers sucked dry of their attention
to detail. The night before her flight, she held
my face in her hands and told me that she knew this
because she would do it for me. Only daughters and mothers,
she said. The light fell over her hair, into the empty
space behind her, yawning wider and wider and
wider until there was a suggestion of a mouth
in its place. Only mothers and daughters. Beneath
it all was that fine titration of hope. Perhaps, perhaps,
perhaps. The day was calling her from the spine
of another country, and she was calling herself
a girl again. I did not have it within me to tell
her that waipo had died four years ago, that her
shadow was one of the things that she could only
think about fully at night. Only mothers and daughters,
she told me. I knelt before her. I could not
put my hand on her knee. I didn’t know how
to touch her in a way that would make sense
to the both of us. And so I bowed my head
and pretended that I was praying, even though
I had stopped believing in God years ago.
Only mothers and daughters, I thought to myself.
How much I knew it to be true.
Amy Wang is a writer from California. She is a 2020 prose alumnus of The Adroit Journal’s summer mentorship under Andrew Gretes. When not crying over fanfiction, you can find her translating Chinese literature, coding, and taking long walks.
Born in 1987 in São Paulo, Brazil, with a degree in Digital Design, Shee Gomes began her work in visual arts at the same year she graduated from college in 2009. Shee has been showcasing her work in a variety of exhibitions, collaborations and projects, with curated works featuring
international books and magazines.