By Steph Wang

I. Tainan

6 am comes quick, before the sun starts
searing. The air hangs thick and sticky with
smoke. Roll up the garage door halfway so
the house doesn’t wake, unstick a
half-moon helmet from somewhere beneath
the scooter. Alleyways riddle the city, carve
their own cracks into the landscape. Two
roads and a bullet train wind outward until
they peter into paddy fields. Asphalt slopes
past the front door, through the skeleton of
yesterday’s night market. One leftover
uncle is dumping his ashtray under his fruit
stand, blue plastic reeking of durian, flies
puncturin wax-yellow pomelo flesh. The
nearest 7/11 is a haven for free internet and
air conditioning and sausage buns and tea
leaf eggs. A jigsaw caterpillar of scooters
lines up outside the window, waiting. Rain
in this orbit spits oil down storm drains,
does not wash the pits out of the streets —
this city tries too hard to be concrete but
bursts with dust and people and not enough
oxygen —

II. Toronto

Morning is a hesitant affair. Yesterday’s
weeds replant themselves in the driveway,
the japanese maple curls inward a little
more, the first car roars down the sound
barrier. Your neighbour has folded an entire
elm tree into his compost bin and it yawns
at you, raccoon-riddled. The sky is an
eyelid and it cleaves through the streets,
unearths powerlines buried beneath the city.
The wind lingers from last season,
furrowing forgotten ice through your coat;
it remembers the sun and melts snow tires
into pavement. On the next block people
keep their doors closed but their locks open
and chicken-wire the trees away from the
children. Growth is for backyards –
basement floods are for amateurs who
never learned to divert their downspouts.
Later the first cloud broils over and splits in
a wet gulp, a hot shrinking rain that pounds
life into the earth. There are no trumpets
from heaven, but there is the undoing of

Steph is a Taiwanese-Canadian student. She is a designated California Årts Scholar and an editor for Ascend Magazine. You can follow her tweets @halethos.