plain china: best undergraduate writing

Volume One : Issue Two

How to Fold a Paper Crane


by Nicole Rubin

East Wharf by Justin Wirtalla East Wharf by Justin Wirtalla

For Grannie Faye

smooth the parchment of her face
and square it, fold in halves, press

cheek to cheek, kiss forehead to lips
run your thumbnail along the creases,

erase the stains of dirty light from her eyes,
collapse the triangles into square base,

wipe—breakfast from the frayed edges of her lips,
with the open side down, fold left and right points in

find the woman in the fold, reassure her in Yiddish
fold the top down, open up to petal fold, pull

her jaw closed, soothe her taut lips, apply lipstick
repeat, fold the side points to the centerline, tuck

the wisps of hair behind her ears, remember,
fold up, these will be her neck and tail,

fill the hollows of her cheeks with memory,
inverse the fold, if the creases begin to rip

rub lotion into the torn tissue paper of her
hands, fold the panels down, these are her wings

whisper her name into the brittle arch of her ear,
straighten out her twisted neck, fold a head,

close the petals of her eyelids, pull gently
on her wings, press your lips to the crane’s belly

breathe your life into her.

About the Author


Nicole Rubin

University of Connecticut

Nicole Rubin, a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, is double-majoring in biology and human rights, and is a pre-med student. When not studying organic chemistry, she enjoys writing, interpretive dancing, and reminiscing about the 1960s.