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Garden State

Dennis Zhang

Hightstown, NJ

Peddie School


CAS for Database


                             when i was three, i danced

                         in your golden marigold fields. your fecund bosom

                     thawed winter’s lust for my cashmere skin. your smile

                  ushered spring’s wistful gaze, beckoning the Yeoman

                to your doorsteps, bringing their soiled garments and

                flirtatious talk of expansion. i was naive to believe that

               these Suitors had endowed your dew-jeweled gown when 

                     your brow shriveled and your cheeks hollowed. at

                          age six, i trekked to the edges of your

                                    silhouette to frolic about your shores.

                                           gleaming, lucent Hudson waters

                                                    tarnished, where was your spare

                                                change? when i was nine, you smote

                                     me for the first time. your fissured epidermis

                                   shattered mine, victim to your mercurial,

                                  four-season personality. by age twelve, i finally

                          found you balled up in the living room, besieged by

                   your acidic tears and charred cigarettes, kindling delirious

              inferno to your barren, mutagenic womb: defective Oaks and 

             their evergreen, retarded petals. through sullen whimpers, we 

       embraced, but my learning eyes could not desert your blackened

          petroleum veins, your excavated, barren skeletal frame, your

          tattooed torso of abusive knuckles crunching flesh. just once

                more, i yearned for the familiar ambrosial scent of your

                            rosy exhale, but your lungs reeked the smoke-

                                                                        stained odor of





So much to unpack here. Garden State uses the symbol of the heavenly garden in the beginning to allude to youth and rather coils and transitions into what it really feels like to leave the garden, and face the abominations and atrocities of the world without mother's dress to veil you.

Dennis Zhang currently attends Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey, where he will graduate in 2020. He is the co-editor-in-chief of his school’s art and literary magazine and is fascinated by the intersection between the sciences and humanities. As an avid runner, he also loves spending time with Mother Nature.


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