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Margaret Siu

How to fold a paper crane, 1955

They said: Sadako-chan,

when you fold one thousand paper cranes

— from both edges of Hiroshima

halved black in one day— the gods grant one wish.

Giving birth to a crane

takes leukemia-stained hands:

to press, to seal, to kiss

paper wrinkles, proof

her swollen nape and blue arms

are winter coats to be peeled off

by the promising warmth

of Okaa-san’s tea hugging

slipping down her throat.

It’ll take one at a time.

644 have taken flight

and here’s to say:

atom-bomb sicknesses are storms, weathered

softly on paper wings— the only birds

unsinged in thunderous eruptions—

lifting her on our backs, spilling

from hospital hands to open air.*

*Sadako Sasaki was a Japanese girl who was two years old when an American atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. She became one of the most widely known victims of the atomic bomb. Sadako is remembered through the story of the one thousand origami cranes she folded before her death, stands as a symbol of the innocent victims of nuclear warfare.


Margaret Siu is majoring in Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas, has a certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the National Taiwan Normal University (國立臺灣師範大學) and a business certificate from Harvard Business School’s HBX program. Siu is the founder and Editor in Chief for international, multimedia publication Apricity Magazine; in addition, she is the recipient of the James F. Parker Poetry Prize. Siu is an avid fan of Naomi Shihab Nye, Mong-Lan, and Lin Manuel Miranda–those who endeavor to narrate their cultures through verse.

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