I tried hard to carry you as well. The weather turned warmer mid-December and we watched the bamboo wilt back up.
Something about your city stays heavy.
Settles deep. I realigned all my clothes and trimmed the excess, a gesture I meant to carry to you.
Caffeine buzzed and sitting on a park bench, you say my hand is in my phone and mean it.
I mean this too.
The leftover necklaces are hanging from the ceiling fan. I never turn it on.
I never thought of landfills until I ran out of room, now I hold this mess and wonder where else you’ve learned to keep secrets.
I’m just looking for a way to stay awake, really.
Like the birds in half-dead bamboo, so silent when I approach them, yet when I leave: a painful racket still shaking up my soul.
On days with birds I think I’m too good at being modern. I need a new affirmation where I will say my hand is in my phone and I am holding myself and I will call you back.
my breath, as if seeking out hollows or making them. Young
enough, the night trips over itself, its motions, limbs crying of fatigue for the day. My cousin finds herself smoking in the wrong apartment. My grandmother slips a rosary into my pocket for the way home and I throw the beads like breadcrumbs across the sidewalk. Try this for a paradox: a ship drowning in itself, passengers floating above the holy wreck.
the walls still crumbling around us. I spill vodka, something cheap,
and break a shotglass with an errant hand. Some days everyone plays God. Over the edge of the balcony, my stomach spills out and I regret not undressing sooner. My cousin drops her cigarette and holds my hair back. We are both in the wrong apartment now. We try to go home but a weeping woman clutches our way back between her fingers, asking to kiss a Hail Mary from our lips.
-- Alicja Zapalska is a high school senior and editor of a local literary magazine, Octopus Eight. She is published or forthcoming in Winter Tangerine Review, Polyphony, and The Postscript Journal.