Grace Q. Song




15th Floor

Grace Q. Song

          Flushing, New York

The bed was really two beds and a long pillow
that stitched the mattresses together.

The sheets, damp with the flush of summer,
clung to my thighs. I hated the mosquitos

pinching my skin and the rats lashing their pink tails.
All night, airplanes blinked their orange eyes

and droned over our heads, humming against the skin
of the Earth. On the 15th floor,

they seemed only a breath away from crashing
through the window in a roar of white.

Perhaps this was why my parents slept on the edge
of the beds: my father beside me

and my mother beside my sister, like the grass
that brushes the fox away from the hunter’s sight.

Love as a glowing red exit sign.
Love as a body covering another,

though these things never happened. Instead,
years before my sister wanted a new body,

I wanted to steal hers and lie next to my mother.
Before my father could leave me, I

was already turning away from him.


That summer I fled from polite houses, away from two-car driveways and lawns, straight as teeth. With a bag of pomegranates, I drove out east, toward the splitting tail of the island, the place I believed had been carved open and pulled apart by the mouth of a fish hook. Water scattered onto the shore, peeled back to seaweed, black as nets, and clam shells, brittled by salt. Clouds bloomed into crosshatches. The sky had no memory of storms. I broke a pomegranate in half and ate the red beads, my fingernails darkening under a sloping sun. When I plucked the fruit empty, I had hollowed it into a shape so strange, with so many holes, that it seemed almost alien—the same way this scene would twist into a tube snaking up my arm like a vein, my body drugged, a white space on the x-ray, an ocean in my lung I’d come to hate.


Grace Q. Song is a Chinese-American writer residing in New York. Her poetry and fiction have been published or are forthcoming in Storm Cellar, SmokeLong Quarterly, Passages North, PANK, The Journal, and elsewhere. A high school senior, she enjoys listening to ABBA and Joe Hisaishi. She tweets @grasoceng.