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a definitive guide on this (how to love or lose your child)

CAS for Database

April Yu

East Brunswick, NJ, USA

East Brunswick High School


a definitive guide on this (how to love or lose your child)

it goes like this—

sallow fingers bleeding crimson

with the sauce of hóng shāo ròu.

porcelain sticky with braised pork,

licked clean with ancient lips.

it goes like this—

forehead and fingers oiling windows,

eyes that track five-year-old footsteps.

prayers failing to translate into

language softened at the vowels.

it goes like this—

white-hot bulbs flickering yellow

on nights run dusty and dry.

muscles and tendons in peeling arms,

flexed beneath eight-ounce weights.

the shining eye whites at every game—

the custard-soft rose-scented comfort—

the lilt of i love you

it does not go like this.

it goes on as it is—

lips protecting against words and kisses,

to mature, not mollify.

carving scars in keratin and bone,

hoping our shoulders carry the weight.


Quietly resilient, sincere, and visceral in its language, in “a definitive guide on this (how to love or lose your child),” the ubiquitous, abstract concept of love becomes something wholly tangible and embedded with memories. In a household with “sallow fingers bleeding crimson” and “prayers failing to translate,” this piece truly emerges as a testament to the unwavering strength of the human spirit.


April Yu is a writer from New Jersey. Her work has been recognized by The New York Times, Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Wigleaf Top 50, and Ringling College of Art and Design. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Mercurial Collective and published in Peach Mag, The Lumiere Review, Milk Candy Review, The Aurora Journal, FEED, and more. She is a graduate of the Adroit Summer Mentorship Program and the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers.

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