Sophie Chen

Coming of age was citrus rind       and mold on new 

playground structures so new they splintered 

in my palm       that digested the wood like another flesh 

J painted      all my fingernails but the bitten down 

thumb shimmering      silver flaking down the pinch 

of an hourglass      minutes dilate in dim light 


Metaphysical things began       to concern me like how time 

zones expand and contract ropes      of sugar pulling apart 

I can afford      to lose a few layers of keratin 


That t-shirt you left me with a pinhole      in the chest I wanted 

to sell it but value depreciates      astronaut face sober through glass 

drenched it at the rap show in the      end he turned out an abuser 


Sifting through shiny kernels       sand stored in a film canister 

all spilled      in my pocket I was shaking out nylon for many months 

when it came out of my mouth gritty and      tasting of warm rain 


I empty my lungs with you in my dreams 

I am not usually that kind of girl you know 

I try to look every dead fish in the eye 


Conch shell pressed      between the sides of our knees 

floating      suspended       playing a song with bassline like sludge 

pushing blood through the temporary circuitry      of our legs 


Then tightroping across the median      streamers round 

our shoulders      in my stomach 200 milliliters of gutter 

water sloshing like swarms of little       larvae still little 


I am never shaking off my sweet tooth 

I am never shaking off the smell of darkroom chemicals 

I am never shaking off these malnourished instincts


Keeping time with Pyramids minute six of ten       your hand palm up 

on the shaggy backseat       today       I scry with fingers on temples 

and predict the future as it has always happened 


Bad habits such as generosity or giving away responsibility 

J walked five paces behind us      secondhand in many ways 

I forgave her      taking artistic liberties to soften the blow 


I don’t take photos without a finger smudging most 

parts of the scenery       It’s a crow-like attachment 

to feeling all light obliquely       I replaced the voice with some other chirp


art by cy @cyberwitch666

Sophie Chen is a Chinese Canadian writer currently based in British Columbia, Canada. She holds a BA in English Literature from the University of British Columbia, and will be pursuing a JD at the University of Victoria beginning in fall 2021. Her work is forthcoming in SOFT qtrly. Find her on Twitter @mildsoap_.