Delmarva Review: Daybreak by Darien Gee

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Author’s Note: “While I was working on a collection of ‘micro narratives’ about my matrilineal line, my mother shared this story with me. Her memory of these small details during a chaotic and difficult time struck me as both poignant and powerful, but lingering in the background was a secret that travelled with her from China to Taiwan, and then eventually to the United States—the truth about my grandfather’s other family.”

The Communists are coming. On the boat, my mother is 11.
They have suitcases, trunks, crates, a Simmons mattress stowed
below. Money and jewels sewn into the folds of clothing, papers
declaring who they are. The Liang Family. Nationalists.
Kuomintang. They leave behind furniture, dishes, a piano⎯a
country. My mother steps onto a bridge that joins the dock to
the ship, holding her older brother’s hand, their mother pressed
close. Behind them trails a nurse with a young boy,
my mother’s half-brother. Her father, resplendent in a brown
western suit, waves them to their room.

My mother swallows a lungful of air, holds it in. Another boat,
the Taiping, was sunk two months ago—fifteen hundred people and
their gold lines the bottom of the Strait. For three days, they
drift over those bodies, those ill-fated treasures. On the fourth
day, the rise of a dark green mountain range set against an
orange dawn sky. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever
seen. Paddle boats idle as they pull into port. Hello, friends,
hello! The locals are selling bananas. In her pocket, my mother
fingers a silver dollar before tossing it to the man below. She
awaits, arms outstretched, for a first taste of freedom.

_____

“Daybreak” is the first of four of Darien Gee’s powerful micro narratives in Volume 11 of Delmarva Review. Gee, from Hawaii, is the author of five novels, published by Penguin Random House, and an award-winning book on writing memoir. She is a former Vermont Studio fellow and received a writing grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in numerous literary journals. Say hello at: dariengee.com.

Delmarva Review publishes the best of original new poetry, nonfiction, and fiction selected from thousands of annual submissions by authors within the region and beyond. The independent, nonprofit literary journal is supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Obtain the paperback edition from Mystery Loves Company, in Oxford, and Amazon.com. An electronic edition is also available from Amazon.com. Website: DelmarvaReview.org

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Letters to Editor

  1. Author Darien Gee has sharpened the art of brevity to touch us with written stories of her family…of many families…and what they endured on their immigration journeys. Forgive simplicity for a moment, but memories or feelings are stored in our brains as brief images. Perhaps that is the reason that a prose writing style called “micro narrative” is so impactful. It is a form of “flash” narrative that is readily available to our thinking and feeling process. While generally not as condensed as poetry, it is a style that focuses on an event with compressed language, under 250 words, to reveal a powerful moment or story. Gee’s vivid narratives, here and in the “Delmarva Review,” Volume 11, are reminders of the importance of our journeys. Thank you to Spy for sharing Gee’s writing.

  2. Wendy Ingersoll says

    Wonderful snapshot of a different world.

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