Postcard proseIssue 14 | February 2012

Escape on the Canal

by Addie Zierman

Take bamboo, for example: Don’t be fooled by its beauty; it is invasive in nature. Left to its own devices, it will simply take over. Its roots will intermingle with the roots of other bamboo. It will form a network too strong to destroy.

Here is how you should plant it: carefully. Clump it together so it doesn’t have room to run. Make use of physical barriers—concrete, glass. Create an impenetrable wall.

5:30 – Wake your students with the Chinese national anthem. 6:00 – Morning exercises. 6:30 – Breakfast. 7:00 – Class. Make them sit straight as teachers march in and out of the classroom. At 21:00, allow them to hurry to their dormitories. Wash clothes and body before 21:30, when someone somewhere flips a switch and the power goes off in the entire building.

One afternoon, two lanky boys look quickly around the courtyard and then hoist themselves out of a dorm window. In one sleek movement, they clear the wall, leaping cleanly over the pieces of glass that jut from the top of the cement. Their feet smack loudly on the free ground. For a moment, they stand, sway tall and free. Then, they run.

Across the canal, some merchants point and whistle. They have seen the leap to freedom, and they have seen me watching.

The boys’ legs lengthen into sprints as they run the length of the canal. In their wake, laughter.

About the author

Addie Zierman and her husband spent a year teaching English in Pinghu, China—a small factory town of half a million. Zierman has danced the maypole in Sweden, purchased a straw hat in the Dominican Republic, ridden an elephant in Thailand and gone cave tubing in Belize. As a new mother, Addie has found that road trips with toddlers and infants are less glamorous than you’d think. You can visit her here.


Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok