APRIL POETRY: "A Mother's Welcome" by Anne Kwok

Curated as part of the Youth Poetry Folio for National Poetry Month
April 5, 2019

This April, to recognize and honor National Poetry Month, we curated a folio of poems by 10 Asian American high school students. This page features Anne Kwok's "A Mother's Welcome." We invite you to take a moment to read the other nine poems in this collection here.

— Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Poetry Editor

A Mother’s Welcome

In this alleyway
a woman crouches over a basin,
black hair bunched into
the tapered tip
of the corn broom resting in a cavity.

Today she is preparing a feast.
She kneads at the
watery carcass of a chicken,
hands cradle a pink bag of
brittle bones and flesh.
She holds the meaty weight,
her aching a palpable thing as
red water courses down her wrist.
A thumb smooths out yellow
goosebumps on skin.
a dripping hand
tucks black bristles behind her ear,
or wipes blood-dappled arms with a rag.

She sloughs off grit on bone,
eyes seeing only the son she
has not embraced
for four long summers.


About this Poem:
This poem is about a woman preparing a meal for her child who has left their home in the countryside in search of greater things in the city. I imagine her pondering why he left when he could have worldly delights (such as chicken) right here at home. She is full of purpose and doesn’t stop to wash the grease from her hands. Using a blend of nurturing and slightly grisly language, I wanted to show a mother’s muted pain and yearning for her child.


This piece was published as part of the April Youth Poetry Folio. To see other works from the folio, please visit the table of contents here.


Anne Kwok

Anne Kwok is a sophomore at Milton Academy. She is a Junior Reporter at Young Post and a board member of several literary publications including Looseleaf, an Asian American magazine. She loves attending writing workshops and meeting new people around the world. In her free time, she enjoys managing a secret Instagram poetry account.