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.