NAINAI KILLED RATS
in the basement with a broom. we
were kids, feral. gooseberry jam. real
smart lipped. four-square, too. cool
asphalt, shiny sneaker kings. we
watched the rats after she left
for work. tails: grey cords coiled. school
in the basement, slant windows, we
sat near a tipping sun. the lurk
of water in a pipe. lurk of blood. late
to the show in sequins, whiskers. we
watched those rats die. a little strike
atop the skull. a little straight
cut. we did not learn thrash. we
did not learn suffer. to sing
a ribcage like a kettle. to sin
a little, we thought. we
were kids. our world: thin
blots of pink, sun. said the word gin!
nothing but a fine rhyme, sliding fast. we
touched the rats, their small jazz
of leaving. it was not until june
that she sealed the pipe shut. we
knew they would die
(and their children, too).
we wouldn’t forget, then. but soon.
Photograph of Carlina Duan by Yiran Liu.