Image by Brian Lippencott

Exponential as a spiral straining away—
as small as a broccoflower
as huge as our galaxy,

as when you say,
You were not there for me before;
Don’t try to influence me now.
A downward spiral.

I don’t believe
there’s only one way
to trace a spiral—

the double helix
in our DNA
is our universe—

as sunflower seed-head, and
as the basketweave pattern
left in the sand when ocean recedes.

After many years
I’m still your mother—
making dumplings,

using our home-grown chives;
I’m already learning, already reading
New York Times.

I know you’ll meet me
in this dance toward each other
through the tangled spirals.

To reach you, I can
crawl back to the center.

Xiaoly Li is a poet, photographer and retired computer engineer who lives in Massachusetts. Prior to writing poetry, she published stories in a selection of Chinese newspapers. Her photography, which has been shown and sold in galleries in the Boston area, often accompanies her poems. Her poetry is forthcoming in J Journal and appeared in Off The Coast. She currently studies poetry with Barbara Helfgott Hyett. Xiaoly received her PhD in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Masters in computer science and engineering from Tsinghua University in China.

Issue 6: Fall 2018