When my brothers turned seven, my father passed on to them silk carp blazing with the colors of the sun. The banners gleamed as he spoke of carp, their golden muscle. At night, he paced outside, circling our home seven times. He prayed that his sons would sprout armored scales, thrash upwards into the heavens. As children, we stuffed the carp into toy chests, buried them in sand boxes. Tattered gold clung to the tips of tree forts, then fluttered in junk heaps, their silken tails picked apart by gulls. This fifth of May, my son sits on the couch, downing Lucky Charms, eyes fixed on the television. The nature show warns of trash fish—murky waters roiling with Asian carp. My son laughs as they launch to the surface, scales glinting like prisms. Cameras pan to newly grated spillways, the stacks of gleaming bodies blasted from ponds, their pearly mouths. Reaching for the darkened screen, my son calls out koi, koi, pleading for their return.
Sayuri Ayers is a native of Columbus, Ohio. The daughter of Chinese and Japanese immigrants, her work explores identity, motherhood, and mental health. Her prose and poetry appear in The Account, Entropy, SWWIM, Hobart, The Pinch, and other literary journals. She is the author of two chapbooks: Radish Legs, Duck Feet (Green Bottle Press) and Mother/Wound (forthcoming from Full/Crescent Press.) Sayuri is a Kundiman Fellow and VCCA Resident. In 2020, she was awarded the Ohio Arts Council’s Individual Excellence Award in creative writing. You can find her at sayuriayers.com.
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