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.
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.
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.