What We Did AFter We Stopped the Boats

Yiwei Chai
Winner of The Penn Review’s 2018 Poetry Prize


I came to eat
but broke myself upon the banks instead.
Well, it is an old story.
You and I know that nobody was surprised.
There was a time, probably,
when the sight would have stopped a world.
Look, little girl. Yellow-boned,
spilling into the river.
Somebody save her. Somebody do something.
Well, we don’t have anything
anymore, and children’s things 
are an old story.
We are tired of always weeping.

Come moon, come stars.
Enough years have passed.
Bring us something soft to dream.
Let us walk on sleep instead of silt,
even as the fine dust blows our breaths away.


Yiwei Chai is from Sydney, Australia. Her work has previously appeared in Moonsick Magazine, The Vignette Review, and SCUM Magazine.