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sick -- poetry by Ziyi Yan

something blackens inside.

maybe it is stomach acid, after blanching my tongue

in bitter chocolate. i am scared something will shatter

if I smack my lips.


mom clings to the landline phone, ripped from the stand.

the screen pulses orange. somewhere across the world there are hands

who worship this same heartbeat–

there are calluses i once touched, eroded into baby skin

because there is no housework to do

anymore.


i cling to my sister and her limbs are crushable.

this is as good as love gets–

it doesn’t eat organ after organ and punch through the flesh

like that other thing.


my sister squirms and tells me to get off.

my dad transfers more money. says it’s the way of the world,

i hold my own body instead, slip upstairs. i know

the goddamn world.


their voices don’t fade, i just strain harder to hear.

something has been clawed out from inside

and patched badly onto too much paper–

there are these things called words and then there is the burn

of stagnant air against my body.


so i try to picture a face, but only see limbs

splayed like arteries, singed, sewn shut.


i lie on the floor, stare at the hospital white ceiling

because that might be the last thing I see

too.


someone told me you can’t write well about anything

until it’s dead to you.

and i can’t decide if i’ve written this well enough.




 

Ziyi Yan is a high schooler from Greenwich, Connecticut. In her free time, she loves to sing, dance, and (obviously) write. At any given time, she is probably reading poetry in her room. Her work is published or forthcoming in the Cathartic Youth Literary magazine, The Phoenix, Elementia, and Greenwitch. Her work has also been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

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