Arts & Culture


Ah-Kong slept at seven last night, slept two

more hours this afternoon.

He’d been tasked to drive me to the airport,

when the silver hands of his watch slanted towards

the time, he reviewed the contents of his day in bed:

his garden, the orchard, the nightly news, and his sister’s

home-cooked Chinese dinners.

Clad in Sunday shoes and long-sleeved shirt

tucked into dark, pressed pants

he barked laconically at me before I stepped into the car,

made me repeat my careful checklist twice first,

his granite-flecked jaw

weighted down as though with rocks.

Large, gnarled, knotted hands gripped the steering wheel

so hard

it should have been a shovel or cratet—the way

wizened talons lock too hard over smooth branches.

He stood unmoving in the check-in line, keeping my suitcase

in the shadows, his ramrod, old frame

carved on the floor.

He took his coffee without sugar or cream,

gulped it down his weathered brown throat,

eyed my iced cappucino under sparse grey brows.

He said little—just tracked

blurry red orange lights twinkling through the cold windowpanes.

He told me to take care, eat well—

but when I turned to leave

he said wait

grey stubbles working and creasing on his chin—

placed two heavy arms around me

at wrong angles

a distorted picture frame

then let me go.


About the Author:

Name: Fara Ling

Age: 16 (junior)


I’m Fara Ling, and I’m sixteen going on seventeen–intentional Sound of Music reference there! This is my fifth year with TPS, and I’m taking AP Literature with Ms. Wood. I love reading, writing, dancing (in particular ballet and contemporary), and being in nature, preferably alone. I live in Malaysia, and I’m in love with the idea of cold weather. I heard about Clay when I was relatively new to TPS, and when it was still The Cracked Pot–probably from a teacher or classmate or a link on Studyplace. This year I’m taking AP Literature with Raelen and Halle, and they talked about Clay at the beginning of the school year!






  1. Hey, I have an Agong! Are you Taiwanese by any chance?

  2. I have an Agong too! I love your poem. It reminds me of my grandparents.

  3. Great job!

  4. Cool! That is such a cute little story, and I love it!