St. Louis, MO
John Burroughs School
There are two headless chickens in the kitchen
sink. I name one Judith and then I eat her.
Her feathers deaden my intestines: An apricot
thumps. Bruises, like afterthought,
repurpose my throat. I am sorry for the remaining
chicken, the one left lounging friendless.
I ask my doctor if he can bring her back:
No, but you can. So I hack
an inch off my left thumb, half of my eye, my tongue,
still wriggling, wattle-like. I drive five states to borrow
my mother’s womb and discover her breastfeeding
the neighbors’ gargoyle, repeating
a story about mandarin ducks that I don’t remember,
yet I remember this, lightseconds ago: A wet gosling
tumbling down the sewer. His brothers turned back
once, twice. I unlearned him,
remember? How I knelt in the sludge and kissed
each oily feather and came home phossy-jawed,
regretting my thirst.
I loved this poem. It's fractured, a fugue-like fever dream, a fairytale cut into pieces. The author's images are distinctly surreal yet unnervingly connected, and perhaps that's what makes them so memorable. The poem stayed with me like a nightmare -- the kind where you wake up with dreams sticking to the roof of your dry mouth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ann Zhang is a senior at John Burroughs School in St. Louis, Missouri. When she isn't writing poetry, prose, or plays, you can find her playing water polo, watching Jane the Virgin, or enjoying a mango popsicle.