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One by One, the Walkers Vanish
after the Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial

Ella Xue '23

We work until the ground absorbs 

our shadows, dirty the half-moon crescents  

of our fingernails, peel dried blood of

our skin. We sew our sinews together  

every time they rip apart and drown  

like soldiers in soil, without dignity. 

But you don’t even know our names, let alone  

how to pronounce them. You watch as we  

languish under dust-born clouds and skies stained  

brown. You fill your pockets and empty ours, open  

your maw and swallow us whole, fifteen thousand  

paper hearts crumpled and four thousand torn. 

Decades later, our descendants will claim  

witness to our work but find us missing from  

blurred-ink lines. They will struggle to dredge  

our stories from muddied waters and  

mountain crevices, as one by one, 

we vanish

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