encounter during night of death
La Cañada, California
La Cañada High School
tonight, a girl straggles
below streetlights, the horizon
noosing her limbs taut.
away, an apothecary storefront
vaults with closure and the back alleys
wind into cul-de-sacs. she does not
return home. instead, the girl trapezes
across monkey bars and scrapes
the achromatic skies, eyeless.
armed with fiberglass arrows
in this playing ground. unrelenting
to the sickle moon and every
reflection of herself in past lives:
vinyl records, broken gods, feet bound
by quiet retributions. she cradles
some tight-beaked sparrow
in her palms, mistaking cacophonies
for the creaks of swing-sets
carved on backbone. oscillating
in the world’s tongue and someday,
she will fly. call it nostalgia.
the quagmire sinking all
pesky ambitions. she pleats each
inflated wound into her shirtdress
and constricts dreams in her intestine.
shredding memories from bone marrow,
still climbing up the curvature
of a soft embrace. nearby,
foxtails ward off the hounds
that bay for her bones. she is here,
dissolving into midsummer heat
as the night loosens. in this way,
the world meddles with everything
that can never be hers. as dawn
meets the sockets where her eyes were,
the girl un-sees, eternally burning.
Note: This piece was previously published in Cosmonauts Avenue.
I’m partial to any piece of literature containing an apothecary, and this piece is no exception. Flush with imagery that makes you shiver, a girl looking to fly, and a narrative voice that will stick in your mind forever, this is a poem that you will want to print off and stick on your wall.
Jessica Kim is a high school sophomore from Southern California. A two-time 2021 Pushcart nominee, her work appears or is forthcoming in Wildness Journal, Diode Poetry Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, Grain Magazine, Longleaf Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and more. She is the founding editor of The Lumiere Review and edits for several other literary magazines.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR