Revisiting Union County, Indiana

Andrea Zhou

Lake Success, NY

Great Neck South High School

Poetry

once

I held Indiana by tangled mane—

your ceramic blue irises

and rusted-earth lips

that mumbled birdsong into my ear

in the understory.

your


bleached bark dense

with shadowed secrets and leftovers

littered inside those switchback

larval galleries.

what exactly weren’t you telling me?


golden hands

tonight I’m waiting for them.

I wonder if you’re still skinny and scapula

jutting like last time, when we shared

a Winston cigarette outside the county fair

tuned in to distant growl and clangor.


were

you really listening to me then? when

I told you, My dad was a demolition derby

man, hoping you would respond

with something, anything heroic. Rather,

I kissed you to strangle the silence.


enough

Jodie, please stop—I don’t like girls.

and like that, I am picked clean,

thinking maybe these nights aren’t for me.

Indiana, I’m so overwhelmed

I’ve started spilling ink, addressing you

instead. You’re so full of living stuff.

EDITORIAL PRAISE

With its beautiful and vivid descriptions of union county complementing the angsty tone of the speaker, this piece speaks beautifully to the teenage experience, while artfully avoiding cliche.

Andrea Zhou is a 16-year-old junior at Great Neck South High School in New York (Class of 2022). She has been actively involved in school writing clubs since 6th grade, and currently serves as the editor for Exit 33, a student-run magazine. Her hobbies include reading and golf.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR