"Portrait of a flood family"
Flung at the ground like
first steps in snow: an ancestor's name,
tamed only by the syllable of death.
Forgive the ground for refusing
the rain because it has buried
too many names. Some language dies
every two weeks when its last person
passes. Lost words in a flood
unable to be drained by the mouth.
But spot the boy who still translates
water into drop, flake, vapor,
all prayers for a person to talk into the earth.
And below there is always
a song hidden under breath, missing notes
and misplaced heartbeat,
whispered to the rhythm of silence,
the patter of absence
always present in these parts.
Only the surface of the round world
to keep the departed
when there are no words to sound.
Steven Chung attends high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. Other works appear or are forthcoming in The Margins: Asian American Writers' Workshop, Glass, Potomac Review, inter|rupture, and more.