Poetry: Spring Rituals by Stephanie Isan

In “Spring Ritual”, the speaker negotiates themselves amidst the rituals of renewal, loss, migration and spirituality. The speaker is governed by a sense of wonder which is further exemplified by a rich menagerie of sounds and vivid imagery.


Spring Rituals

Will it, again, ever be as sweet as the night market,

noxious fumes and pig’s blood, shaved ice

melting into the drains – will it ever

again, be as sweet as fairy lights

sparking our flesh in the dusk of a typhoon

summer, fireflies crisping our palms

with butane. Tonight, for you,


I light incense in closet altars. Sexuality

becoming tendrils of prayers. We all beg

forgiveness. There once was a filial daughter who

kowtowed for three nights straight, her forehead a

hammer nailing coffins into temple

cement. Isn’t that enough. Isn’t it good enough? I am

neither here nor there, fragile hip bones

jutting like clipped


wings. I blossomed, feathered, from a branch of your rib. You called

me beautiful. Would be perfect. For you, I have salted my

lands and burned all my

tongues and pleaded one day you would deem it piety. Tell me,


when you crossed the

Pacific, eyes wide as any womb,

barren as any grave, and found nothing but the

ashes of unswept tombs, flat Cokes bubbling with the

rotten rancor of mandarin peels, what did you see? See what? The maggots,

writhing, in





Stephanie Isan

Stephanie Isan (she/they) is a queer, Taiwanese American writer, poet, and software engineer. She was born and raised in the San Francisco bay area, and currently lives on the US east coast with her dog, two cats, and partner.

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