Bridge Across The Sky: The Riot

The Riot

Historically, there were two riots by detainees for better conditions at the immigration station. There’s a riot in the novel, too. Here’s the scene:

a roar

It begins
soon after the kitchen staff
starts bringing out the food.
The Association table
is served, and then
a few others.

I’m still
on my feet,
pursuing Sow Fong,
who’s pretending
to look for a seat while really
running away from me,
while I’m being pursued myself
by Father, we
two hunters in pursuit
of an accounting
of a relationship
with the Resistance. I imagine
our first words, should either of us
catch his quarry, will be
“What the hell?”

there’s a crash
that’s not
a dropped plate
but a bowl of rice
at a wall.
The soggy mass
has time
to slide only a few inches
before a bowl of vegetables
joins it.

The thrower?
Yen Yi,
standing tall, now
holding up
his plate.

Smashing it
on the table.

The Resistance
takes up the action.

More plates
are smashed. More food
is flung. A roar
goes up of shouts
and breakage.

I go cold, forget
about Resistance.
I would have run
but for my father’s hand
finding my arm with a grip
that tells me he’s done
being misunderstood.

Sow Fong
turns, his face
with fear.

I find myself.
Shake loose
from my father’s hold.
Raise a plate
into the air. Bring it

— From Bridge Across The Sky, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster).

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