Family Tree by Michael Chin

There’s a tree my grandmother had the gardener plant when I was little. My tree, our tree, it grew much taller than me.
I inherited my mother’s tendency toward quiet, quick wit, and sarcasm.
I inherited my father’s narrow eyes, black hair, critical eye, fascination with violence on the television screen, and a touch of his gambler’s streak, until I stopped winning.
I inherited my grandmother’s love of reading and her flatware. A table I loved, before my father sold it after I left for college.
I inherited my sister’s four-function calculator when she graduated to scientific. Her Green Day t-shirt after the band had sold out and her love of Muppet movies by sitting by her side through that first foray, then the Caper, then Manhattan. Until the world told me these were childish things and I stopped speaking of them.
There are these pieces that stick, these pieces that fall away, like leaves that change colors.
They might last forever. They might go.
The saw. The lightning.
I dreamt I saw our tree fall.
And after I came home and drove by the house she’d sold a decade before—
No sign of the tree.
I remembered that ordinary childhood quandary, one we encountered on TV, not out of our own curiosity. A kid who’d swallowed an apple seed and grew wary of an entire tree might grow inside of him.
My sister shook her head. Who thinks that?
I didn’t understand why the idea was absurd. That a seed might grow inside of us. Take root in our stomach. Branch and go from bare to green to burning red. Bear fruit. Live on.


Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and is a recent alum of Oregon State’s MFA Program. He won Bayou Magazine’s Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and has work published or forthcoming in journals including The Normal School, Passages North, Iron Horse, Front Porch, and Bellevue Literary Review. He works as a contributing editor for Moss and blogs about professional wrestling and a cappella music on the side. Find him online at or follow him on Twitter @miketchin.