» Poetry


Let us pretend there is no mystery in strawberries,
that we know precisely what floods the flesh so enticingly red,
coloring summer with a crimson flush, a violent bloom
amid the cool earth greens.
Let us knowingly say the unabashed hue comes
from ripeness for eating, and there is no more meaning
to the deep red so like our hidden internalities,
which we feign ignorance of while complacently stroking
the shield of our outer flesh.
Let us declare the finger-stains of picking are superficial,
and are washed away when our hands are clean;
that the strawberry juice has not already penetrated below the dermis
so that our own blood runs redder,
intoxicated and giddy with the inbred sugar of fruit;
let us feign that we see no connection
in the perfect way a single strawberry nestles in the human mouth,
to bring memories of feeding lovers and butter light,
romances that never were, and cool saucers in the evening.
And lastly, let us make believe
while the fields are still heavy with the lush season of ripeness
that the bruises on the tender skin do not hurt us, too,
that we don’t notice time playing decay on that succulent red.
Let us insist to ourselves, assuredly, continuously,
that our own hearts are not already burst
as the short-lived strawberry loses its firmness on the earth.


Cleo Qian

Cleo Qian is a writer and translator. Her work, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, has appeared in The Common, Catapult, Gay, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, and other publications, and she has received honors from the Norman Mailer Center. She is a co-curator of the Sweet & Sour Readings.