This selection, chosen by guest editor Samantha Duncan, is from She Has Dreamt Again of Water by Stephanie Niu, released by Diode Editions in 2022.
I Drive as my Family Sleeps
I take us south, toward home. The work is done, the truck loaded and chugging. Even the rain has stopped for a while. Earlier, my parents ate together for the first time in years, holding foil-wrapped pork on the edge of a cargo bed, their knees almost touching. I wonder if we know how to be with each other without labor. Even this journey north to clear out an old warehouse by ourselves, the five of us refusing to hire help, proves just how far we’ll travel for a meal together. Reunited, we wrap furniture. We take out garbage, collect branches to toss in the strip mall dumpster. Even the youngest of us, my brother, understands what is required. He learns to maneuver the truck in the rain and carries his best tools from home. I glance in the rearview. For once, everyone is asleep, necks slack, mouths gently opening. Soon, we will arrive, unload the truck, lift dressers, scrub scales from the fish for dinner, working again at our lives. But for now, this quiet mile is the only thing on earth that is ours.
Stephanie Niu is a poet and author of She Has Dreamt Again of Water, winner of the 2021 Diode Chapbook Prize. She received her degrees in symbolic systems and computer science from Stanford University. Her poems have appeared in Southeast Review, Poets Readings the News, Breakwater Review, and Storm Cellar, as well as scientific collaborations including the 11th Annual St. Louis River Summit. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Study/Research Award for work on decolonizing historical narratives through digital techniques, including podcast production, map-making, and digital visualization. She currently lives on Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean.
Samantha Duncan is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including Playing One on TV (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2018) and The Birth Creatures (Agape Editions, 2016), and her work has appeared in BOAAT, SWWIM, Meridian, and The Pinch. She lives in Houston.