It’s midnight / I stand in the downpour of rain / on the corner of 94th / drowning in my misery / the rain is nothing / the droplets can slip through my fingers / but the weight on my shoulders won’t budge / my screams mix with the pounding of rain on concrete / when my lungs are scraped red and raw / and my thorax burned and eyes gouged / will I finally be enough?
The dormant demon inside / shatters the barriers of my mind / and spews forth in ugly rainbows / I imagine the colors would make the ugliest shade of green / I’m upset with the way the rain washes the stains away / at least the vomit was evidence / now I have nothing to show / maybe this is a sign / maybe it’s all in my head.
When my blood runs cold / and I’m chilled to the bone / I’ll gather myself and go home / because out of sight, out of mind / I’ll convince myself that I’m okay / by embellishing my
problems / so their woes are hidden / or by presenting my anger on a jeweled plate / to make it all seem better / I’m overreacting.
I look up at the endless sky / longing for closure / and reaching for stars that don’t exist / the rain cleanses my mind / and suddenly I was being petty / I wonder if I’ll remember this moment in the morning / and start letting go of the past / but who am I kidding / this won’t be the last time I find myself on the corner of 94th / drowning in my misery.
The Ocean Between Us
I sit across the candlelit table
as Grandpa recites his gu shi:
traditional chinese poetry.
I listen as his words lilt in haunting rhythms,
pulsing in all the right places
and breathing life into the antique.
Grandpa speaks of clouds jaded by the gauzy heat,
of countless city lights woven into tapestries,
and of water lilies resting on ponds of glass.
Grandpa commands his words like a warrior wields a sword,
his tongue rolling with the perfect accent
and words dancing in tempo.
His words are water, sanding down the roughest banks,
and trickling in streams through untapped places,
bringing calm into the unruly wild.
I feel my heart beat to Grandpa’s words,
my pulse liven and my mind whirl.
But he stops all too soon, turning to me—your turn.
I try, but the words curl off my tongue unevenly, my mouth cracked and dry.
I cannot command my mother’s tongue, my words sound nothing like Grandpa’s:
his are a heavenly choir and mine a cacophony of inexperience.
My voice melds into white noise as I raise my head
to look at Grandpa over the wooden table,
mourning the size of the ocean that has pooled between us.
It’s only an ad. But the slogan of a deodorant brand I’ve
never seen before makes me wonder if it’ll bring you
back into my life. Like lavender scented hygiene products
will magically recreate the past. The wind in my hair, a
smile on your face. We used to dance together under the
sated sun, our bodies entwined in a sacred rhythm. It was
like time had slowed down, and all I could feel was the
warmth of contentment wrapped seamlessly around our
limbs. I may have fallen first, but you fell harder. Anyone
with eyes could see that. I remember when we were young,
I remember those moments in sunny fields and on my rain
soaked porch. I can still feel the ghost of you holding my
face, holding my body, holding my heart in those hands I was
so convinced it belonged in. But now those moments are only
memories, merely the prologue to a tragic movie. For time
pulled us in opposite directions and I was too naive to fight
for our happy ending. And so I find myself thinking of you,
halfway between the pickles and the bread, and a good safe
distance from the truth.
My Mother, My Moon
I trace Mother’s hands with my own, the soft pads of my
thumbs falling victim to the deep fissures running over
her palms. Her hands are a map of her adventures, a
humble reminder of the love she marked on her children.
The blisters that crown her hand tell a titan’s tale, of how
she held up the sky to watch her daughter run free. The
worn skin of her once fleshy fingers are a testament, to
the countless times she siphoned night terrors from her
daughter’s dreams, smoothing back matted hair and gently
caressing youthful cheeks. The scars on her palms are
remnants of the needle and thread she used to patch the
doubts in her daughter’s mind. Mother’s taut skin almost
bursts at the seams: a reminder of the protection she bought
for the easy price of flesh and blood. And as Mother raises
her head to the night sky of my window, I see the moon
reflected in her eyes. She keeps watch through the night, the
constellations in her irises veiled with sleep. Mother wanes
with the moon, her luster fading with every waking minute.
I never understood the crazy things you do for love, yet I
was the sun to my mother’s moon. And the moon eats all the
darkness in this world, dying every day so the sun can live.
Funny, how the lull of the drowsy wind makes ideas swirl in my mind. Drunk
on 3 AM bliss, I think in a language only someone as fatigued as me could
decipher. But the moon doesn’t need words. The crescent shines through the
gloom of the devil’s hour, bleeding light into the stars. Enveloped by the eerie
calm of night, I wonder if there’s anything I can’t do. Under the twinkling stars,
I hold infinite power over life. I am the sky, the sea, the earth. The trees groove
to a swaying rhythm and I dance to the beat of the breeze. It’s euphoric how the
fog of yesterday’s rain clouds my head and suddenly the flowers have never
chirped and the birds swayed more majestically than now. And as I spin in
circles, my blood runs ichor. It’s crazy how intoxicating the drug of early
morning is—captivating when under the influence, but treacherous the next
morning when my head hurts from the sun’s rays and the stars that once kept
me company are chased away. And yet I live for those moments, when the
buzz of life slows to a crawl, and the shadow of witching hour does nothing to
dampen my mood. I desire those moments where I’m humming incoherent
tunes and using the moon to light the world as my stage, mesmerized by the
night sky and wishing not for sleep to sweep the wisps of ecstasy under the rug.
We used to fall asleep to the wind at night. The soft wind of evening
would spread the paints of the sky across the horizon, showering the
cosmos with pockets of light. What started out as blobs soon smudged
into an ombre of purple, blue, and indigo. The nighttime wind would
rustle the leaves of the old elk tree that we used to sit under, talking
about anything and everything. The wind was like a lullaby, drifting
softly to our ears and pushing us one step closer to oblivion. I’d slump
against your shoulder, unable to hide the droop of my eyes. And you’d
only laugh, acknowledging the wistful sigh of the wind with a good natured
smile. The summer breeze broke up the stuffiness of a warm evening,
wrapping us both in the seamless cocoon of its embrace. The wind danced
alongside our dreams, lilting and swaying to the haunting rhythms of
unconsciousness. The wind was enough to tear me from the grip of reality
and insert me into my own fantasy, one where we danced together through
oblivion. The songs of the wind, beautiful in the same way chimes are
after a storm, would float through the air and close its warm fist around your
mind, drifting you slowly into sleep, long after I had relented to its clutches.
The wind was, perhaps, a maternal figure. It cared for us, sheltered us from
the fear of growing up, and sang us to sleep with the most heavenly choir of
notes. Every night, the wind possessed the ability to bring sleep upon us, and
I doubted if the wind would ever not be enough. The wind is always enough;
you and I are enough.
About the Author:
Alice Xie is a teenager from California, with a passion for writing and an ambition to make the best of her teenage years. Since joining her school's newspaper in junior high, Alice has fallen in love with the vast field of writing and has continued to write journalistically for her newspaper and creatively for her own personal happiness and sanity. Many of Alice's works explore the parallels between the relationships in nature and the relationships between people and emotions.