My hair smelled like cigarettes that summer, before I could recognize weed & heroin & how girls with plastic nails clawed themselves into boys. I, too, broke rules: three years too old for the neighborhood’s playground, spending ashy nights on the swing set. Memories tangled like string, like knives. I imagined I could Prometheus: scoop out my liver as punishment, spoiled pomegranate spilling. How the fruit flies came for my hands. The boy I’d decided to love. How he had Tylenol-colored hair, so sickly sweet, how he said he hated himself & dyed his hair the color of the scissored insides of slit grass. There was drought that summer, flammable lawns & broad daylight so blinding yet nobody saw hands turn into papercuts, tiny open mouths carved raw & screaming. I never saw that boy again. I stopped visiting the swing set. Once at night I sat down on someone else’s driveway & wondered how I could write so naturally about violence yet didn’t want to die. The jaundiced streetlights, my legs folded up to a chest so heaving with breath. Watching my shadow so dark & oily & I so here, so here, so here.
Fiona Jin is a writer in the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Outside of poetry, she loves drawing and visiting art museums.