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If you angled your body just right, you could see how the neighbor’s eucalyptus trees swayed to the hum of Ma’s heart. It goes: uhna, pat, uhna, pat, uhna, pat. Two fat arms wrapped around two hollow waists, waiting to be filled with life and hearth. Dense heads on each of her breasts. You’re too old to suckle, too old to crave.

Nestled bodies on top of the old mattress, screeching under sky cotton and split springs. Your ma would point to the ceiling and say, “That’s where babies come from.” And you believed.


You thought of the looming light from the moon, and the cloud cover. But Ma meant heaven, Ma meant God, Ma meant He who gave her her precious girls. Angels that He hand-picked to land into your mama’s belly and grow, grow, grow. She’d heave a breath and tickle your sister with her nose. Giggle giggle.


Tell me: Where did you go?

isabelle jia

Before the Yellow House




Isabelle Jia is a sixteen-year old poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Glass Kite Anthology, Seasons Magazine, Phosphene Literary Journal, and TRACK||FOUR. Jia has attended the Iowa Young Writers' Studio and the California State Summer School of the Arts; she is also a California Arts Scholar, the finalist for the Walt Whitman Poetry Contest, and a recipient of numerous awards from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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