Plain China

No More Young Mother Smoking Cigarettes on the Porch

by Blaike Marshall · College of Charleston
"Suffocating Nature", Camelia Rojas · Loyola University

My grandmother planted herself

here among the arrowheads. She dug

her husband out of the marsh— hands

cupped as she washed him. They turned

metal siding into brick. Within the lilies,

she told me to let the earth stain my knees

black like the grease of my grandfather’s

plumbing hands. Now, she tells me

my hair is long, meaning: She misses

when I hid behind the couch, when I sat

devoted upon thrones of pillows, when my

ears shook at the sound of words that

made the seams of wallpaper yellow

and wrinkle, like the severed fingernails

I found below the chipped lip of the

dining room table. She raised me there

until I didn’t want to say grace anymore, until

I didn’t care about why she collected

all fifty license plates or what Alaska

looks like. I mow their yard in the summer,

corner dead leaves in the autumn. Now,

after the fall, she laughs as I clean her stitches

clear. Her Cherokee skin now white

as the filters I found wrapped in tinfoil

under the skirt of her chair. Often,

in my dreams, I break down her hospital bed

with the promise of stripping the screws.

And I wait, for her to stand, and cut the air.

About the Author

Blaike Marshall · College of Charleston

Blaike Marshall is a student in his hometown at the College of Charleston, where he is a Senior majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing. His work was selected for the 2015 Adroit Prize for Poetry: Editor’s List, and also appears in Poetry Quarterly. Don't ask him to dance--he has scoliosis. 

About the Artist

Camelia Rojas · Loyola University

Camelia Rojas was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Baltimore. She graduated from Loyola University in 2016 and now studies Graphic Design at Maryland Institute College of Art. "Suffocating Nature" first appeared in Corridors