sickle cell By Amanda Huang

sickle cell

i.

this estuary is far from a haven
rather, i wade in the depths of
a tumid womb, the collision point
of tangled veins carrying
brackish water. the shrimp
clump together in the brine,
millions of thin crescents that
drift as red bodies

ii.

you haven’t grown
for however long we’ve
known each other. every year
the other kids ask how you got
out of the mile run in PE, how
you got your parents
to let you skip so much school.
you say the truth
just breathing makes you feel
like everything has gone into
disarray and every aching fiber
is curdling

one kid asks how
he can fake those symptoms too

iii.

dig shrimp from the water.
hold them to the sun and watch
their bodies wither, light
filtering through each of their
callow appendages and i
cannot help but think how odd it is
to hold a life in your hands, how
odd it is that something
could be so fragile
iv.

when we come over for brunch
your mother takes the tulips from
the dining table and throws them
in the closet. you never told us
that flowers had been coming for weeks

v.

i wonder if there are enough
estuary shrimp to blockade
an entire vein. the brackish water
would still and fester

vi.

you keep saying that you live
as a murmur in the midst of static,
that your life is not made of sound but
the product of echoes in space.
besides that you don’t
talk much anymore

vii.

your family’s never
had a faith but now you’re devout

viii.

the shrimp keep drifting in,
they keep gathering.
they swallow up space within
your aching veins and the
water has started to stagnate.
we can only hold so many
in our palms but we will try

ix.

this estuary is far from a haven
but you are treading water

By Amanda Huang

Biography:
Amanda Huang is a junior at Millburn High School, where she is a senior editor of her school’s literary magazine. Her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and JustPoetry, and has been published in TeenInk and in the Word magazine.
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