Back to Issue Forty-One

Border Vista


n.: a 10-foot boundary clear-cut into forest for ease of surveillance


for two years I live within
a mile of the US/

Canada border

in the tiny apartment
I share with D
and his son

we often walk
down the hill and
behind the gravel lot

where totaled cars appear
headlights crazed
from impact
then disappear

once he and his
bright towheaded
boy like a blond alarm

cross it without

(and is this the part
of the story I find
most unbelievable)

when they turn back
toward home                two barrel-

chested officers wait
on the tracks

after a few minutes’
questioning being
white Americans
they are free to go

D never mentions it again
but for weeks

washing dishes
vacuuming threadbare carpet
I find myself
in the sunless tunnel
through the woods

an urge comes
to run
into its leafless
domain and cross over

knowing I would not
be able to come back
if I did

but dying                   to be somewhere



State Symbols


What is the etymology of flesh—not the arrow of its trajectory to this mouth, but something untended,
blooming. We all know what can come from an omission, an om, which is to say, a humming, a homing.

What were the sounds that surrounded you? Sounds you emulated: breath, teeth, tongue hung, daggered in
your mouth. Sounds embedded in your body (memorize, memorialize) that linger, take hold. (I pledge

Someone else’s mouth inside, trembling your membranes.


A single red flower. An abrasion of color.

Endless translation available: deep love, admiration, pity, a light

Sorry sorry sorry the petals say in their feathery profusion. Or was it happy birthday,
we’re glad you survived, may your survivance be long, may you live past your own life
like these sewn stems—sown? No, sawn.

Piece-meal mouth of a ghost incarnate. It is red. It drinks the water.
It says whatever it is we want it to say.


Hello, one who has been carved by the curved needles of cardinal cries in the rain.
This is your state bird. Famed for its redness (male), its omnipresence. We study it in our reports and never
learn its song.

A man I tried to love taught it to me. This is their mating call. Would his imitation draw the birds from the air
and to his mouth? Now you try. He drilled it into my ear until I repeated it properly: two longs, five descents.

How to translate this song, when it has long been understood as cheer cheer and birdie birdie birdie birdie birdie?
The rhythm thickens. The cardinals continue in the rain. Rise? Rise? We-will-will-will-will-will. Repeat after me: I
pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the—Rise? Rise?


Anni Liu was born in Xī’ān, Shǎnxī, in the year of the goat. She is the author of Border Vista (2022), winner of the 2021 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize from Persea Books, and her work is featured in Poetry magazine, Ploughshares, Ecotone, Two Lines, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA from Indiana University, where she served as poetry editor of Indiana Review. She also translates the poetry of Dù Yá (度涯) and edits prose at Graywolf Press. You can find her online at

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