Nanxy Huang

bamboo shoots grow fastest in nineteen ninety (/guilt)

my parents were born into the soil     planting seeds and growing taller and harvest and blossom     water flood over the rice paddies but they did not budge     their feet planted firmly in the earth     by day they worked the fields for food     one kilo of rice for eight for six mouths for one month     add water to rice to make more porridge     add water to fish bones to make soup     by night they rubbed out lightly etched essays to do new homework     candlelight flicker     every day ba walks through dog shit to get to school     other kids they laugh at him     he cannot afford glasses until university     but the fortune teller says he will never go to university     she sees his dark skin and hands full of calluses     ma and ba are both the first to university     o, how fortunes turn     and so the oldest and the youngest leave their villages and journey into the city     and then they journey to the west

we are born on their shoulders     their fruits     hanging high above and swaying     fruits of their labour     fruits of their love     full of sweet innocence     so juicy so plump     we moved from a room     to two     to a house with heating     we buy a house     we sold the house     we are thirty floors higher and scraping the sky     my sister climbs with the bamboo scaffolding and learns their secrets     soon she shoots up up up     I watch and grow fat in indulgence     the branches sigh and shiver under the burden of the juicy melon

the horse and the ox are persistent creatures     hardworking and diligent     the horse has speed and stamina     the ox is loyal but stubborn     I dangle and admire the view     I can see far and vast     but, I care not for skies or seas     I look back and down and wonder what ants look like     how many legs do they have?     from here I see only the colour of dirt     when there is no wind there is only silence     there is no movement     there is no direction     the city lights blur the stars and I cannot find my way – not that I can read the skies anyways     I know only that the fuzzy moon means it will rain in the next three days     I am lost

for how can I trace my roots when I cannot see them?     for how can I find my roots when I float in the sky?     how do I know which way to grow if I do not know where from I came?     in limbo     I ache for the murmur of the earth and to be connected     to plant my own feet into the soil and grow my own roots     to stay strong tall upright when the water flood     but the fall is great and I am scared     I am ripe but I am not ready

ma please hold me tight a little longer

Nanxy is an artist who is trying to navigate relationships and belonging through writing, anti-fashion and food. They are a co-founder of the new magazine blINK (black ink, white pages), a platform for Durham’s students of colour.