The Things You See

These are the things you see
yet I remember:               first,
the animals in cages too small,
littered with empty strawberry
soda cans;                           then,
the yellow cocoon of a puttering bus
to Aden,                               then
the sudden carcass of a car,
a woman running in full balto
and nikab, and blood on the road.
I am                        here
and you are                       there.
It’s strange to wake and not see
you in your bed bent over
crossed legs unfolding out of sleep,
count our coins together for bodega coffee.
I am alone on a packed corner
where a woman catches my eye
telling me she’s anorexic, OCD
is killing her, and would I please
put my trust in a stranger and call
her sister? You would’ve been her
stranger, a brief indent against the skin
of another day. A sister, my sister—
for though some say two friends
must be            parted,
the hazel tree still stands by
our old window
by the wire fence
and vacant lot,
where the bittersweet
vine once held fast.                       Look:
its grooved body still marks
the invisible       weight of another.

Written by: Grace Zhou

Grace H. Zhou is a poet, dancer, and cultural anthropologist living in Oakland, California. Her writings are inspired by ethnographic encounters, diasporic experience, botanical worlds, friendship, and loss. Her work can also be found in Icarus Magazine and a smattering of academic publications. She is Poetry Editor at ABD Zine and a PhD Candidate at Stanford University.


Toucan barbet, by Canyon Sam

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