Plain China

Conquering Grounds

by Jessica Fuquay · Rice University · Poetry Prize Winner
Bovine Highway, Suzie McMurtry · Colorado College

All our children learn. The uprooted will sing

of the root’s tearing. We draw the ocean-blue,


the yellow sun smiling over neat rows of waves,

old ships bobbing like toys in a bath—the Niña, the Pinta,


the slave ships that sailed in their shadows,

someplace off the page where a whip drives


the wind. Eyelids drawn taut, we are

educated. The stories unspool from our throats,


chain-links whose rattling we have taken

for voices—Yoruba, Igbo, Inca, Guaraní, each absence


of a name, each specter in the vision now passing

for sight. Who can see a face straight?


There’s grain in my reflection, and every beam of light

suspends the upturned dust of artifacts.


From glass shards, we make lenses to see farther

into blindness. The centuries vanish


at the point of their horizon, the sun so bright

we never saw the flares.

About the Author

Jessica Fuquay · Rice University

Jessica Fuquay is a writer, musician, and artist based in Houston. A recent recipient of B.A. in visual arts, she served as the director of the Matchbox Gallery, Rice’s student-run exhibition space. She has never been any good at sticking to one thing, but hopes to concentrate for long enough to release an album or poetry chapbook one of these days. Her poem first appeared in R2: The Rice Review.

About the Artist

Suzie McMurtry · Colorado College

Suzie McMurtry is an undergraduate from California likely studying studio art and environmental science. She focuses on digital and film photography as well as ink and watercolor. The most interesting subjects to her are those that show interactions between the man-made and the natural. Her piece first appeared in Colorado College’s journal, Leviathan. See more of her work here.