/ every time the wind opens its
mouth / the pages of the calendar
fly / anti-gravitational forces whisper
melodies / into the hearts of days /
long gone /
/ celebrating the past forewarns
the future / time functions in reverse
chronological order / nostalgia dies /
when the wind stops breathing /
/ she tells me there are two
differences / between growing
young / and growing old / but
she won’t tell me what they are /
/ she celebrates your one-hundredth
birthday on the day you were born /
they’ll both come one day / someday /
/ don’t waste time marking calendars /
she says / they’ll fly away / days
before your birth / you will never
see them /
peel away flesh that grows on trees
so that you can wear it. the thing that
crawls on your skin has gone under so
now you can never escape. sometimes
fruit never fully ripens because the peel
hardens too quickly. salt is ripped away
from your skin: scars remain where flesh
will never return like half the fruits that
you never stomached. that empty feeling?
that’s where they say they all lived before
you began to shed. the ocean is your mother.
tree flesh has an expiration date but fashion has
a longer shelf life than the exoskeleton that
you wear to interviews. soon, it will fall away
and leave you with bones, no flesh. red patches
will still be stuck to the marrow. the off-white
suits you, but you look for a new suit. maybe
the thing that crawls under your skin will lend you some.
when the sun rises i feel you
writhing under my skin.
red suits you, there’s no need
to wear it under your skin but
i want to discourage you;
the same way you push me
into abandon buildings that i
won’t call home.
the day summer comes i
need you to leave; ghost town
isn’t for you nor me.
war paint for you
is ink that faded away
before it touched you. every
time i see the ocean i
imagine you sinking as she
swallows you whole. roses
that wither in your hand bloom
inside my throat. breathe,
swallow, savor the taste of
defeat. it isn’t new.
when the sun sets i feel you
sinking under my teeth.
Uma Menon is a fifteen-year-old student and writer from Winter Park, FL. Her writing has appeared in Dark River Review, Ms. Magazine, and Borgen Magazine, among others. Her first chapbook was published with Zoetic Press in January 2019. Uma is also a nationally-ranked Lincoln-Douglas Debater and activist for marginalized groups.
–Art by Chelsea Sturgill