Kinematics in One Dimension

i. v=v0+at

we carve alphabets onto glass tabletops.

acidic veins. bunsen burner hearts.

physics coating our fingernails like nail polish:

a burgundy glitter. how glass chips

cling to our palms like moist sand.

how, when marker squeaks against whiteboard,

we pause, look up. molten glass dribbling

from our wrists to the linoleum floor.

speed, we remind ourselves. not velocity.

that is to say: directionless.


ii. x=v0t+½at²

that is to say: we have not rusted.

minivans under a forest canopy, windows splintered.

the fraying metal of playground swings whistling.

a shudder of oxygen. that is to say: dissembled

by time and all its squares. or maybe it’s distance.

walk the stretch between here and sunrise and maybe

you’ll understand. come sundown, count the threaded calluses

on the soles of your feet, rivers eroded from the grit of gravel.

see how your fate line cracks your foot in half

like vertebrae. watch the calluses break off into deltas

at the curl of your toes. possibilities, fault lines,

etched into aching flesh. lessons of the difference

between distance and displacement.


iii. x=½(v0+v)t

learn how to piece together torn fabric.

patchwork, sewn from the fragments

of acceleration: not stagnant,

but not exactly changing either.

a rearrangement of variables, equivalence

wrought from the firm-mouthed lines

of stitches. learn how to halve time

as you would cotton sheets,

the kind hotels wash once, then never again.

much like your own purged distance:

sunblock-stained time, margarita-washed velocity.

rice-paper thinness, porcelain fragility.

somewhere that is not here, there is a room

with glass tables and whiteboard markers.


iv. v² =v0²+2ax

you make mirrors out of glass tables,

out of foggy windows: an infinite display

of delicate things. one day

not so far from today, you’ll go and rub out

your reflection, leaving only

smeared charcoal thumbprints. like how time

was eventually scrubbed from your equations,

velocity expanding to fill its place.

you think of how stars are glued to the canvas of sky,

some you suspect are mistakes, splotches of yellow

dripping from the painter’s sleeve.

no cat’s cradle of a constellation knotted between them.

no andromedas pressed around the corners

like daises suspended between the pages of photo albums.

one day not so far from today, you know

you’ll be wandering back, kinematics stitched

onto the lining of your sleeves.

LILY ZHOU is a high school sophomore from the San Francisco Bay Area, where it is never quite cold enough to snow. Her writing has been recognized by Scholastic Art & Writing, has appeared in Phosphene Literary Journal and Textploit, and is forthcoming in Glass Kite Anthology. When not writing, she can be found drinking bubble milk tea, solving a sudoku puzzle, or playing the flute.