coasters

I asked my dad if he and mom would be
            okay if I never sent money

to them after I left the nest,
            wings wobbling and change spilling,

pennies clattering into the drains and
            singing in their copper glory down there,

and he took it as a joke but I was as serious
            as the day when my uncle

came home and asked my dad for
            part of his retirement fund and so it ended up being him

lounging in Florida heat with moisture
            from the sea wind and mojitos beading his

skin because the platelets and cells in pulsing
            veins is what matters and not the

run-over promises and unpaid rent that
            matters and part of me, the

struggling part, thinks it’s a stupid, old-school—
            a pointless, noble belief because

it ended up being me worrying
            about not making it in the city that

never sleeps and using last reminder bills as
            coasters because if there’s one thing that

I have to pay back is how mom inculcated the use
            of a coaster into me so that one thing does not

bleed into another until all you have is the streaky
            mess that is this family.

My spine is the one bowing, willow
            in the wind, under this

nonexistent boulder and mom tells me not
            to slouch, to hold my head high, to go

into the city with thick skin, scar tissue shields,
            so that I am impervious to all but the

spiderweb burden resting between my shoulder blades
            and in the hollows between my ribs.

Yong-Yu Huang is a culturally confused teenager who spends too much time not studying. She has been published or is forthcoming in The Heritage Review, Parallax Literary Journal, and Bitter Fruit Review. When she is not writing, she can be found bingeing Doctor Who, playing the flute, or trying unsuccessfully to kill creepers in Minecraft.

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