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Two Poems by Tara Tulshyan

Brewing Oolong in Wuyi

Mama teach me how you pour

cha on loaves of kaolinite, how

it drools on the seared edges

of bamboo, how it syrups down

your lip, itching. Reserve a seat for

me behind the mountain where

white clouds abandon you. You describe

the tea leaf as feeble, coated

in soot that glazes your fingers when

you first pick it up, bitter until

you brew it in water. You add slices of citron

and hibiscus to the boil, the only

sweetener you could find. Mama you cannot name

the color of the cha, it is the transparent

lake in Xiamen that Angkong fled, the dust

from the bicycle your baba rode,

and the trail of pink hibiscus in your yard. The resin

that thickens the water, are the ashes

from the yellow note, brooding, boiling

in the pot where the seats are empty.

Previously published in DIALOGIST, July 2021


A Baker’s Wife

Red bean bread is not hard to make.

The man who threw cigarettes at me

guided my hands around the dough,

knotting it into itself. I added three cups

of sugar for good luck. Pray that it is sweet

enough or else he will fill me up with it.

The sweetness disappears when the bun

goes under the fire. He teaches me how

to ground the steamed beans, tells me to add

more honey for good measure. The beans

still have shells in them, some that don’t

disappear even when cooked.While folding

the paste into the pockets of dough, he re-

lights the fire. His hands heavy, scalding

when he presses it onto my skin. He smiles.

Previously published in The Ilanot Review, April 2021


Tara Tulshyan is a junior from the Philippines. Her works have appeared on, or are forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Kitaab, Passengers Journal, amongst others. She is also the Editor in Chief of the Woolgathering Review. When she was able to, she liked to travel around Asia and expose herself to a range of cultures.

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