I wear the days like fabric. I watch
them stretch across my shoulder. Mother says
I’ve outgrown smaller dreams, the treehouse
& its imagined magic. I find a doe, give it
my name. I stay close to every pockmarked
surface of land, find water-soaked stones & confuse
its sheen for unmarked gold. I could stay godly.
Childlike & unsheathed. Soft & moon-heavy.
Between the river valley & the shifting sky,
with my thumbs pressed against every scattering
of light, the heat like a boil I trap under glass jars
& old crates.
Mother, I can hear the grooves in my voice,
the way it curves & dampens deeper. The way
a boy muscles out of a boy, the way the sky
learns how to bruise & bleed. & so my brother
teaches me how to sharpen the knife, how to open
the rabbit. & so I sinew the shape of my hand
into vein and knuckle. The river crumples
& recrumples silk water, imitates the sound
of everything that it drowns. Tonight, the bonfire
feeds on the rabbit & its bones, curls its smoke
into a crueler grin. My brother tracks the doe
within the brambles, teaches me to turn archer
for everything I love.
Jessica Xu is a high school junior living in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her poetry can be found in Sooth Swarm Journal, The Ellis Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, and others. Her work has been honored by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Poetry Society of the UK, the National Poetry Quarterly, and elsewhere. She edits for Siblini Journal and The McKinley Review.