Kristine Ma

two cities, lovely ones
after Elizabeth Bishop



18th birthday / adulthood

seventeen and i’m back again in michigan’s fist of an apartment.
there are crystal glasses in the sink, gloves and envelopes on the counter.
i am thinking, now, of the cream paper, wondering if i’ll ever fill them.
there are so many ways to say thank you.
i’ve spent all my life stretching myself thin— spun sugar in the hands
of a street vendor. i play ignorant, play mature, crepe wrapped in tissue paper.
seven days until adulthood and i’m thinking about mouths, the way
all things enter from the lips. i’m thinking about what preservation tastes like.
maybe the taste of glue, how you seal a letter with your tongue.
or sticky rice cakes, the time my mom explained that on lunar new year we ate
nian gao so each year, nian, we grow taller, gao, but i told her that
170 centimeters was tall enough. the way i spit mine out in a napkin, the way
i could feel its warmth even wrapped in tissue. i’m thinking about the music through
the thin walls, the shower head, defining girlhood, what lips taste like, if it’s possible
to hear their breath, if i’ll slip into new skin, if i’ll forget everything in the seconds
between the 26th and 27th.



Kristine Ma is an Asian-American writer hailing from Michigan and a freshman at Stanford University. She received three national gold medals and several other recognitions from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Additionally, her work has been recognized by the Young Poets Network, nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, and appears in or is forthcoming from Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Hunger, Up North Lit, perhappened, and The Indianapolis Review, among others. When she isn't writing, she can be found playing piano, watching anime, thinking about going home to her cat (even though she’s allergic), and dreaming.