Plain China

Dream 737

by Molly McGinnis · American University
Study of Bacon, Rosie O'Brien · Grinnell College

We are standing on a street in Manhattan.
The traffic light: cinched red lips.
It is 1975, twenty years before we were born,
a few months after the war.


Every windshield is cloudless and full of trees.
Someone has just painted STOP in fresh yellow letters
on the pavement, reaching out like flashlight beams
toward a vanishing point where two towers rise.


But we are not looking at them—
you are watching a man shave out on his balcony,
I am drinking orange juice,
waiting for the light to change.

About the Author

Molly McGinnis · American University

Sophomore Molly McGinnis believes in political fiction, silver eyeliner, and people with unsettling backstories. This poem was first published in American University’s literary magazine, AmLit

About the Artist

Rosie O'Brien · Grinnell College

Rosie O’Brien attempts to wed her interest in politics and art in all of her creative endeavors. She currently studies Chinese, political science and studio art, and has performed choral and solo vocal works in Taiwan, Canada, and the USA. Study in Bacon, made by melting crayons in leftover bacon grease, calls to mind issues of food waste and presents an alternative technique for encaustic painting. This piece was first published in The Grinnell Review.