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Open your bedroom window in the heart of winter.
Wrap the wool blanket around you, the one
your brother once used to pin you beneath
for hours, held down by the chesterfield
and an ottoman. You resisted until
you were underwater, your eyes and lungs
filled with light, and you went to sleep
on the carpet. When you stopped struggling
you were left alone. Alone now, let the night
air in. The snap of it in your lungs like croup,
your mother rocking you in the bathroom, the tub
filled with steaming water, how she sang your name
again and again as if to call you back. Listen now
to the buzzing of electric wires outside
your window, the constant murmur, the way
you imagine the world must work—the secrets
people keep and then tell. It must be like waking
to a room full of yellow roses, knowing those truths.
Bouquet after bouquet from friends—they did not
forget you after all. Like waking to her humming
in a steaming room, life coming back to your lungs.
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Draconian individual punishment distracts from systemic change and reinforces the cruelest and most racist system of incarceration on the planet.
Our well-being depends on a better understanding of how the logic of labor has twisted our relationship with pleasure.
“I was my father’s son. My father was Nai Nai’s least favorite.” A Taiwanese American man, driven from home by a secret, reevaluates his childhood memories of his grandmother.