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An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
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Stephen Liu

Chung Shin, my little brother, left us after he had seen nine springs. It was morning, a sunny day, the ricefields outside the window were green and full of joyful sparrows. Then came the priest in black robes, with ancient instruments of music. Days and nights they stood before a row of haunting candle flames and sang their scriptures with never changing sleepy tune, as if they were asking favors for my brother from gods in heaven. After Chung Shin’s soul was saved by the blood of a rooster, my father brought from the village a paper carriage and horse, with a paper lantern and paper driver, and burned them in the graveyard, in order that my brother might find his way home in the night. We burned, too, a thousand paper dollars, so that he might have something to spend. Lastly my mother burned a paper kite, for my brother’s favorite sport was to fly a kite in the spring wind. I saw my mother dry her eyes with a white handkerchief, I heard my father groan as he walked to and fro, biting his fist. I watched the ashes dancing by the cypress. I smelled the fresh earth and herbs. I felt the chilly evening air; and I knew we would go home and leave Chung Shin here behind a stone. And the day he left us: it was morning, a sunny day. The ricefields outside the window were green and full of joyful sparrows.

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