How to Not Be Afraid of Everything (2021)

“I really just allow myself to see what themes keep coming up as I write, and fear was one of the first ones…. I’ve always wanted to write about the Great Leap Forward; it’s been sitting with me for years. My grandpa passed, and he was a really central figure, not just in my family but in the larger Seattle community, and he held all the stories about that time period. But, you know, no one actually talks about the Great Leap Forward. And so with that, it was always about reading between the lines.” —Jane Wong

“I Haul a House Out of the Bay”

            There is something about digging my arms into mud
as if I’m trying to find all the loves I’ve lost—dragging

            each burrowed foot, each ventricle in bivalves. How I
tender the spit of the bay, murk trilling my arm hairs.

            The jutting claw of a crab eyes me from its windowless home. You and me both, I want to say. Mud buries in

            nail beds, my bending heart furnishes fat hulls through
weeds to sustain me—how my grandfather squatted

            as wide as a kite and dug to feed his children, the shells ringing along my mother’s mouth otherwise songless.
            I pull clam after clam from the slumping earth and toss
them into a bucket, clanging a warning for those who’ve

              wronged us. The tide lulls in lopsided adoration. I haul
these houses, my eyes dripping with clams. Salt air slops
            along my gums. Punctuated with specks of sea grease,
I bend to turn the earth again, the earth muscling against

              me. Each hinge, each ghost—opening. In the murky slough
of day, I grit and dig, singing our long decay to sleep.

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