Artwork by Kari Lam

Artwork by Kari Lam


You need squares to make dragons.

Some dragons look like snakes. Some dragons look like birds.

My parents fold paper cranes for me, because when you make one thousand of them, you can make a wish.

But the crane becomes a dragon when I look at it. Then it becomes a bird again.

I am granted the favor of choosing paper. It is an exquisite task. Papers spread, colors and patterns under our hands. 
They cover the table. 
They look like a rainbow sea.
There are peach blossoms, stars, rivers, and purple crescent moons. 
There are mountains and lanterns.
There are so many colors and shapes, I can't give them all names.

When the paper is being folded, it has to be other things first:

A square,
A kite,
A diamond,
A rabbit's face with sharp ears and a long, pointy chin.
Then wings fold up into legs,
Like a bird that is doing ballet
And reaches up to fly.

Some dragons have skin of scales like fish, or coins that shine with luck.

Some dragons have wings like reptile arms, dinosaurs who believe they are birds.

I want to learn how to make a dragon that can be a snake or a bird,

I want to grant wishes with paper.

I’m collecting squares, thin sheets of color.
Unfolded wishes, unfolded books,
They are not yet dragons or snakes or birds,
But the possibility of everything.


Writer & Visual Artist's bio:

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Tran is a Kundiman fiction fellow, a Lambda fiction fellow, and the recipient of the Jean Cordova scholarship for Lambda fellows in 2017. She holds an MFA in fiction from San Diego State University, and has published fiction, poetry, and essays in Vietnamese and English. She is a high school English teacher and a mother of two magical little boys on the shores of southern California, spending most of her days near the ocean she can’t breathe without.