sporklet 12

JinJin Xu

The Mother

All summer
I watched
the wasps
build their nest
against the pane
of my childhood
chewed wood
weaving walls
of tissue,
frenzied males
kissing eggs
When I shone
a light
into their secret
the queen,
the nest bloomed,
then emptied.
Even the eggs
What called her
to this place,
dark, desiring,
mother to
no one?
On my last day
home, I lifted
my skirt
and there
she was,
clinging upside
down to my
Now I know
she was looking
for a place
to die,
a barren



JinJin Xu is a writer and filmmaker from Shanghai. She is never quite sure what genre she is working in—her hybrid poems can be found in The Common and The Margins, and her films shown at Berlin’s Harun Farocki Institute and NYC’s Immigrant Artist Biennial (2020). She is the 2020 winner of the Poetry Society of America’s George Bogin Prize. After traveling for a year as a Tomas J. Watson Fellow, she is currently an MFA candidate in Poetry at NYU, where she received the Lillian Vernon Fellowship and teaches hybrid workshops. Her chapbook There Is Still Singing in the Afterlife won the Own Voices Chapbook Prize and is forthcoming from Radix Media.