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Jiangsu, 1944

CAS for Database

Rho Bloom-Wang

Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Winchester Thurston School


Jiangsu, 1944

     & when I open my eyes

we are leaving. Fleeing east to greet the bleeding

dusk, gone as its tendrils crawl forth. You are

lucky & we move in blankets of bees

how can one mass hold a million

jolts? Two million breaths but not my

mother’s & not the sister’s whose name I wear

& still we ripple into the outskirts. Bodies—

I guess that’s what we became when

they forced pork down my mother’s closed throat. Your

brothers & sisters weren’t lucky like you & we are leaving

again, so I try to close my eyes but end up

pressing the wind into lotus petals.

I seal boxes of books that can never

be read because you need to hurry

& I wonder how that soldier aimed so

slick his bullet danced through my uncle’s

one cheek & clean out the other & somehow

I know we are not going back. I untwist

the waves from my hair. Miss the days

I won’t remember. Wish my aunt would take me b-

ut no, no paper can buy back a revolution.

This time when the harvest moon rises I know

we really are leaving.

I have a ticket past the shore as if

the bodies aren’t dangling underside

the train & off the rails & there

now we are leaving

fast skimming toward sea away from a sun so red

                                                           I close my eyes.

Note: This piece was previously published in the YoungArts 2023 Honorable Mention and Merit Anthology


"You need to hurry." This poem flees across the page, breathless with expanding syntax. The repeated ampersand ("& we move in blankets of bees...," "& still we ripple into the outskirts...," "& I wonder how that soldier aimed...") continues to build tension, leading readers deeper and deeper into a journey of exile. I couldn’t stop reading until the end. Bloom-Wang develops this poem with such deliberate pacing and cadence, rendering a heart-rending image of survivor’s guilt.


Rho Bloom-Wang served as Allegheny County's 2022-23 Youth Poet Laureate and is a 2024 National Youth Poet Laureate runner-up. Rho is Editor-In-Chief of Plaid Magazine, a winner of the Oakland Sidewalk Poetry Contest, and has been nationally recognized by YoungArts, DePaul’s Blue Book, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. You can find their work in Lumiere Review; the tide rises, the tide falls; and Eunoia Review. Rho loves long hikes along trails with wild blueberries.

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