The Other Half of the World by Aiden Heung

After Esteban Rodríguez


You don’t know your parents so you invent
a narrative for them, placing them in an imaginary
scene, dressing them as you would any dolls
in a dollhouse; only that the river still cuts
deep and the mountain still hulks against the dull
sun that bats gold into cold pines.


Your parents, you imagined, sat in the back
of an old truck, shivered in the fog
that allowed half of the world into this story,
curtaining the other behind a gauze, so thick
that you believed there was no world
and that your parents moved perpetually, unnoticed,
on a road leading nowhere.


That day they hopped off the truck on a barren
mountain, where they planted a hut, falling
ten years later, buried
in snow and rivaling weeds.


You were told they had to do this, had to
raze down the hut and send you away; yes, they had to
shoulder the weight of mountains, so their boy
could edge into the other half of the world,
through cracks and crevices.


You imagined them treading through night
when shades of darkness clawed
into their creased skin.
The bus they were expecting,
would arrive at the first caw of roosters.


You saw yourself entrusted to the driver who promised
a better place, a city perhaps, different at least—


There your parents stood motionless behind the leaving bus,
like two withered trunks no one cared
to take a second look at,
and blended slowly
into a gathering of the dark.

Aiden Heung (He/They) is a Chinese poet born in a Tibetan Autonomous Town, currently living in Shanghai. He is a Tongji University graduate. His poems written in English have appeared in The Australian Poetry JournalThe Missouri ReviewOrison Anthology, ParenthesesCrazyhorseBlack Warrior Review among other places.He also translates poetry from Chinese to English, his translations were recently published in Columbia Journal and Cordite Poetry Review. He can be found on Twitter @aidenheung.