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Emily Yin


Rooftop shingles

concatenate across the valley like fractal canopy,

like RGB pixels blooming

over the dusky night. In one rendering

of my memory, Taipei is a city stalled

on the threshold of morning,

recursive function paused

on the nth iteration of the scripting

of this city that I love, suspended

until the day of my return. In another,

Grandpa joins me on the balcony

at five a.m., points out each silhouetted sight

as the city blinks into being.


On Grandpa’s eightieth birthday,

I Skype him from my dorm. It’s so easy

to cast Grandpa as immutable constant

in the relentless loop of time,    

Grandpa, preserved by static screen,

Grandpa, whose face looks ageless

in a certain light—it’s so easy

to pose for the camera, look a screen

in the eye, make out a smile

in the mass of pixels, flickering and bright—

so easy to blame my clumsy tongue

on bad audio, faulty connection.


Grandpa once told me that

distance resolves chaos into a kind of harmony

and I think of the cluttered streets

of my childhood, gorgeous

only from afar, and all the words

I forsook in the ether between then

and now, and the cracked-shell facade

of my Mandarin, obscured

by the crackle of the phone, think of

all the distance between us  

and the way I can only bear to love him

when we’re an ocean apart.


a legacy    of your myopia: F-E-L-O-P-Z-D

the seven optotypes    hardwired into your memory

from yearly    eye exams cold   optometrists you aimed

for 20/30: third-to-last line    on the logMAR told me

I never tried    to see beyond that—    & I know

what you mean: there’s a threshold    past which

the eyes tire   of groping for the    exit in a

darkened room past which they get    confused


your Timberlands    graze the floral bedspread two

dumb beasts    put to pasture green coat piled

in a heap a    boneless heap upon the    floor

how I track    the trajectory of your hands    moving

toward uncorked mouth    Stepford limbs sprawled

at forty-five degree angles a kind    of hyperopia:

the closer    you get the blurrier    you become

an error    in perception a    simple oversight


Emily Yin is a freshman studying applied math at Princeton University. Her writing has been recognized by the UK Poetry Society and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. Read her work in Indiana Review Online, TRACK//FOUR, and Rust + Moth, among other publications.

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