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By Jenny Xie

One of the sent-down rusticated youth

Xia xiang: shuttled to the villages to work a steamed pot of land

Her austere fatigues and chatty pigtails

She learned to grin as the poster girls did, as if treating everyone out

Body doubled over under the basin of the sun

No books, just somatic pain that rings outward

Weak congee in the mornings, six girls to a room

Where to spend her astonishment, cursed with a short half-life

It was the border of adulthood, those fallow years

Even then she understood the living carry on by being fluid

And that there would be a child

And the child’s face would sting of her own




Listen as Jenny Xie reads "Lineage."

Added: Monday, January 21, 2019  /  From "Eye Level," (Graywolf Press, 2018). Used with permission. Photo by Teresa Mathew.
Jenny Xie
Photo by Teresa Mathew.

Jenny Xie is the author of Eye Level (Graywolf Press, 2018), a finalist for the National Book Award, and recipient of the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets and the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Tin House, among other publications, and she has been supported by fellowships and grants from Kundiman, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and Poets & Writers. She is on faculty at New York University and lives in New York.

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