sporklet 14

Margaret Zhang

Memory I Keep Misremembering
for J

It begins with a house. An appetite.
The window & flushed stars looking after each other
the way a bomb leaves an afterglow
on any poacher’s face. You are the bomb
I want to poach. I dislocate the window,
full of little stars, and shake. Sound of beads
rattling in a box.


A syringe undernight drains dry the stars
until they are weapons, hanged
from the frame. Begging
to be tucked away. You among them.


You touch me,
please. I touch your neck, threadbare
from the noose, still the only thing I know to be true.
Downhill we ride,
highway heavy as water,
so endless the night erupts in bloom:
color of a barred window, glass panes turned ghosts
to open the room to the soft animals of summer.


Dull summer that was, ripe as bones. Whiter
than any dream. And without end
like the space between your left knee and your neck,
like this open turnpike. Like the shoreless river at which we met. You,
I discovered in the aimless white. For weeks,
we waded, waiting for a signal. You were in no hurry. Finally I understood
that your body was a lifeboat, winding back the clock
each time I drowned. A lifeboat can only do its job.


Tell me how to keep
this white highway dream. In which the road
devours its own tail: the window & flushed stars remembering they are made
of the same god. Flight & asphyxiation learning
to be synonyms again. Again and again.
On the side of the road, a fence awaits us
like a shore. Beyond it, water. Dead branches hanging onto the fence
like old hands. You pull over to braid my hair.
I give you the window I tucked away


but you open it wrong side up and all the beads
spill onto the grass, each an ouroboros, a weapon learning
its own medicine. In the barbed wires, I locate our own palms,
squirming like panic, white with youth
and so far apart.

Margaret Zhang lives in Philadelphia. A Best New Poets and Pushcart Prize nominee, they have attended the Tin House Poetry Workshop and been recognized by the Poetry Society of the UK. They are currently pursuing a BA in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Read their work in Waxwing, The Louisville Review, Salt Hill Journal, The Minnesota Review, and other journals. You can find them at margaretzhang.com.