something blackens inside.
maybe it is stomach acid, after blanching my tongue
in bitter chocolate. i am scared something will shatter
if i smack my lips.

mom clings to the landline phone, ripped from the stand.
the screen pulses orange. somewhere across the world there are hands
who worship this same heartbeat –
there are fingers that must hold a face, but
i can only picture limbs
splayed like arteries, singed, sewn shut.

i cling to my sister and her limbs are crushable.
maybe this is as good as love gets –
it doesn’t eat organ after organ and punch through the flesh
like that other thing.

my sister squirms and tells me to get off.
my dad makes another wire transfer, says it’s the way of the world.
i carry my own body instead, slip upstairs. i know
the goddamn world, i
lie on the floor
and make friends with my nail clippings,
snap them in half like all the words i didn’t write –
callus, branches, hold

i stare at the hospital-white ceiling
and it might be the last thing i see

someone told me you can’t write well about anything
until it’s dead to you.
and i can’t decide
if i’ve written this well enough.

Ziyi Yan is a student at Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Connecticut. In her free time, she loves to sing, dance, and (obviously) write. At any given time, she is probably reading poetry in her room. Her work is published or forthcoming in The Phoenix, elementia, and The Greenwitch. Her work has also been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

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