Dip ankle-deep into our falls
and we will find that none matter
more than this one. Wade
in our wavering lies and the boy
will return home to a dog
chewing on bones under his bed.
There is nothing left
to eat. His father will throw the dog
out and call it dirty beast. He says
never grow attached to things you
Father tells us to sit upright. Straight,
until we fold in like origami cranes.
Our wings cannot unfold and dreams
stay tucked into creases. Sentiments
were never ours to keep.
And father never liked to eat. He sits
until his hand trembles and drowns
his spoon in cold chicken soup
with wilting mushrooms.
We know he has too straight
a spine, but we stay spineless,
do not know how to stand, only crawl
towards skies that pool in our minds.
Our eyes puddle with stars but there
are no stars here for us to find,
upright. With spine. Desert heat
weighs our eyes closed while dreamless
sleep wraps around paper lungs.
Father says he hopes we can
breathe. But his words only come
out halfway, drowning in chewed up
shreds piled in his throat. Even
the cigarette spine broke into pieces
so how can we sit upright
under father’s teeth. Prey,
we. And there was a time, probably,
when father slept soft in mother’s palm,
before she spilled yellow
into a river. He tells us to never
wade in yellow silt: There are tigers
waiting, yellow-boned beasts.
By Amy Zhou
Amy Zhou is an aspiring high school writer from The College Preparatory School in Oakland, California. She has been recognized for her poetry and short fiction by The New York Times, the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Frontier Poetry, and Hollins University. She has been featured in various literary journals and serves as the Editor-in-Chief for her school’s newspaper, The Radar, literary publication, The Steele, and art magazine, ArtsMag.