goldfish

CAS for Database

Lily Wang

Middletown, New Jersey, USA

High Technology High School

Poetry

for two cents, the man,

answering, would reach into the ocean

open another sail, & draw

a second sky. in this picture,

the sky was never just blue

but pink & yellow & orange

long before sunset. in your version of the story, lao lao,

the bottle makes it across

an ocean & waits on gaping sands

for the promise that even a family of dandelion,

rooted in the present,

will make their way back on august winds


for a hundred ren min bi, the girl

will pirate the gold,

will wish you, lao lao, “fortune like the east sea

& a lifetime like the south mountain.” if these words

emerge with static, then nine years

has drifted a summer into a stranger, between us

is the trans-pacific cable & there’s a girl yelling

in the background. her sand castle was melting

too early, she was lost in the currents

between us, our paper card promises, a deep ultramarine


for three thousand dollars, mama

will buy the ticket. one-way & not home.

in the wrinkles of her eyes are long

nights & somehow we still fit

two shots, polymer masks, a thousand

paper cranes & still everything

is left behind. the sky

should have been grey. in your stories,

it’s always the ones smoking delicate arcs

& curves of dreams,

life, oxford comma before

stage 4 lung cancer, who disappear

into silence, into grey


—but lao lao, what if people become stones?

what if they sink after a few skips? even in this rain

only the bottle is allowed

to be made of glass


for one inch of time, the girl,

chasing the leaving wave, will swim across


the glass earth & find the blurring,

the passing,

in her story there is a bottle, inside:

a goldfish & two cents

EDITORIAL PRAISE

Simultaneously abstract and deeply tangible, this poem will whisk you from seashore to seashore with colorful motifs and encroaching undertones of loss, regret, and a life relinquished. Through its careful repetition and subtly darkening scenery, it paints a portrait that seems to fold into itself, the story unveiling within a bottle trapped within that same story. Bright details and a distinct sense of familial longing make “goldfish” uniquely striking and hard to forget.

Lily Wang is grateful for her loved ones, rollerblades, cats, and particularly great quotes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR