Poetry Archive

On Boys’ Day

     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
    for the darkened screen, 
my son calls out koi, koi, 
pleading for their return. 

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Filed under: Poetry Archive


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.