©2020 by Canvas Literary Journal

Published by Cosmographia Books

Background art “Submerged” by Amelia Ao

Canvas logo by Ali Wrona

On Preservation

Patrick Tong

Winter 2020

For the nights my grandmother pitted pock-

       marked lychees in the kitchen and the mornings

she carved apple seeds across their meridian––

 

windows I watched her through in the quiet of 

       our Manhattan yard. The space between us bellied

grapes on my father’s trellis, a bottle’s worth of 

 

claret. All the while berries coloring my tongue 

       like a language, a bloodline unfurled across an ocean.

In times of injury, she peeled me lemons until 

 

my flesh grew thick into rinds. Boyhood in 

       the way she healed me to skin tangerines over the 

countertop, fold their husks off the granite.

 

What did I know of how our love ripens in 

       these cycles, of a family pledged to this ethos––

sipping nectar as it skinnies down our arms, 

 

refilling platters of peach by the daily. The 

       staccato of summer persists, my mother always 

humming for street vendors and orchards. 

 

Come August, heat haloes our hallways and 

       I rinse shellacked bowls over the sink, the faucet 

running years of memories over my hands. 

 

Some days, I lay an ellipsis of melons on our 

       dining table, the grammar of my body built on 

clauses of purpose. As I undress an orange 

 

each morning. As I dizzy the saucepan with citrus. 

       As The Pacific ripples toward the shore. It carries 

the fruitful weight of a generation.

Patrick Tong is a senior from the northern suburbs of Chicago. A National JUST POETRY!!! winner, he has also been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and the Poetry Society of the United Kingdom. His work appears or is forthcoming in Eunoia Review, 3Elements Review, and Rising Phoenix Review, among others. He currently serves as both an Executive Editor and Poetry Managing Editor for Polyphony Lit, a copy editor for its affiliated blog, Voices, a poetry reader for COUNTERCLOCK Journal, and the Outreach Director for the COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective.