Abecedarian for My Brother Daniel, Waiting to Turn Nine

by Jocelyn A. Chin

Apples wait in our kitchen’s
brown wooden bowl. And you – you wait with
cupped hands, wait for my return, wait to catch my tears as they
drop. Eager to please, you pat my back with your small palm.

Eat this apple, please, 
for the days are
growing shorter, this flying, tumbling
hourglass of spraying sand, no longer waiting. This world
insists that you grow like a weed each night, before I see you.

Just take the fruit, please, and go out to the sun, play with the
kids next door and remember to share.
Lift your sticky fingers to the clouds, you’ll reach them too soon;
my gifts of LEGOs and sweets no longer satisfy your
needy mind, your bursting body, the round
O your mouth forms when encountering a curious question – I beg you
please don’t grow up. In my dream, in the afternoon, at our
quivering white hammock, you lie in wait, hoping to simply
read a book of poems, with me. Becoming your older
sister has been the very best gift I have ever received. Think!
The way your lips lose their childish lisp, our mother tongue, the way our
umbrella will be too small to cover your shoulders so
very soon, the way you cup your palms, and wait.

Why don’t you bite into life’s bright apple, and
xiao a little, smile for me? Twenty precious white pearls, teeth to the wind–
you could eat the world alive. Thank you, for your joy, your love, for unveiling to me
zoe – for I must believe now, in eternal life.

xiao – Chinese, meaning laugh, smile
zoe – Greek, meaning life, abundant, eternal life


Jocelyn A. Chin is a current undergraduate student at Duke University who is happiest when reading a novel in a hammock flooded with afternoon sunlight. When not at school studying public policy and creative writing, she lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her beautiful family and the best dog in the whole world. Jocelyn finds that her writing oftentimes leads her back to nature, into the lives of others, and closer towards home.