Ma speaks of her childhood in cycles:
time marked not only by the passing of days
but by the rows of seedlings sown into soil
like children tucked into bed, asleep
until the day swollen melons would burst
from the earth, and, cleaved in half,
would be spooned out and emptied
by her brothers, tiny seeds expelled
until they, too, could be sown into the ground.
The end of my childhood
spawned a new age marked by cycles.
I circle the 5th of each month for the day
my insides will be scooped out like a melon,
metal spoon skimming off seeds
as red juice runs down my jeans.
As the week wanes my abdomen will pucker
in angry pink, overripe, until swollen flesh
yields to dormancy: seeds safe within the earth.
When I speak of childhood
Ma laughs at my time before cycles
when a month was still a month,
when my jeans would be stained
only with mud as I romped about the playground.
Before a month became a marker in the dirt
of the days since germination
and the days until once more
I will lie, quietly, on a quilted heating pad
and shed my membrane.
Anna Kiesewetter is a creative writing student at Stanford University from Issaquah, Washington. She is a 2022 finalist for Stanford’s Boothe Prize and 2020 Scholastic American Voices Award nominee, and her work is published or forthcoming in Polyphony Lit, Prometheus Dreaming, The Rising Phoenix Review, Blue Marble Review, and elsewhere. A firm believer in the psychological nature of literature, she writes to explore human experience and perception.