Feature / Short Story and Poetry Contest / Summer 2013
A Missing Child

Winner and Readers’ Choice favourite in the 2013 U of T Magazine Poetry Contest

All that time you were driving South,
The polar roads the silence of Siberia,
Did you feel the tug of the angel
You once made, eclipsed in snow,
In the seablue glass of Belukha
Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc—
An arrhythmic beat encased in a concrete vault,
Or were you too afraid to look back, for fear of salt?

The mitten hooked on a branch of
One of those mountainous pines in Estonia,
Cable knit, a clump of gelid mud
From the vigorous burrowing of a small damp hand,
Its salmon colour and the blue-gray hue
Of snow and pastels—
Belongs to no one, or once belonged to you.

At the motel, you put on Simon & Garfunkel,
The cushioned sound of the TV whispers vacancies.
The weight of oceans wearies you
And you wonder about your missing child,
She is you, she has always been you,
Her mewling a cry that breaks, and breaks.

Some years and nights later,
Wrapped in a shawl, an incubus slithering down the chimney,
You wander to the room with the salmon walls, it’s nearly three,
On hands and knees you crawl through the tent
Of pillows and comforters,
And kiss the hot cheek of your little girl,
Lie beside her, tug your lashes closed.

And you remember the small child you once were,
Her phantom fingers trace salt water,
On the blue-glass bed lie two small children,
And the ocean burps a salty swallow.

In your dreams you walk on ice.


Listen to Jessie Yao read “A Missing Child”


Jessie Yao is a student at the University of Toronto.



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