Still Life

These days,
I no longer nap before dinner.
Instead, I relearn how to tie shoelaces
until all my sneakers are caught in sailor knots.
I gargle my mouth with orange juice,
fold my jackets into planes,
and tie knots on all my fingers to remind myself to remember all the things that I can’t.
Sitting inside an afternoon
feels like sitting inside a seashell,
like that time I couldn’t sleep
and listened to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”
for an entire night.
I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.

These days,
I lust after my window pane’s
five-o’clock shadow.
Apples are in season,
and the way dusk dawns upon them
reminds me of a still life,
of the way light passes through leaves
when a child wants to see the sun
but does not want to go blind.
It reminds me of purple static,
of hands cutting on telephone wires,
of taking a knife to a worm
and leaving it out to dry.

These days,
I drink the sunset from my window
like red wine.
Except I’ve never had wine, or anything,
so this is technically my first drink,
but still my mother doesn’t yell at me.
Instead, somewhere in the house,
music starts playing.
Strings like swans,
solos like swamps.
I recognize it immediately.



SARAH M. ZHOU is a Chinese-American student from the Chicagoland area. Her work has previously been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing, and she has been published by Vagabond City. A lover of collage art, surrealism, and vaguely melancholic songs, she finds afternoons as a concept both intriguing and unsettling. Catch her on Instagram @sarahmzhou.