Last night, the blood moon swallowed the center of the universe, stole light years from the stars. Twenty years ago, grandmother stole
grain to feed her girls as the sky soaked her vegetable garden with bullets. When the Red Guard arrived, modernity stole
anything older than I was: mother’s fashion magazines, jade bracelets, lineage from viscera. That night, mother caught me stealing
away to the garden, sentenced me to hide where no one would want to look. I sung in a language I learned to steal
from her mouth, grief as exodus. When the new textbooks came, covers stained with widows and flattened rebellions, mother burned them. She stole
history back one dynasty at a time as she taught by candlelight. I asked her why they wanted us to forget the skulls bursting like cherry bombs. So they could steal
our lives again: my brother another estimated casualty. My mother pointed at the textbook: famine overwritten by prosperity, an autobiography of stolen
victories. This, too, is an act of violence. My greatest ambition was to learn the trick to satisfaction: if I weaned my body from need and belief, stealing
anything would be impossible. The night brother left for Mongolia, I watched mother’s back fold like a burden as she mended a dress the furious years stole.
-- Heather Qin (she/her) is from New Jersey. Her work has been recognized by the New York Times, Columbia College Chicago, and Hollins University, and can be found or forthcoming in Kissing Dynamite, Pidgeonholes, and Diode, among others. Besides writing, Heather loves classical music and reading.