Yesterday a girl asked me if I would be married by eighteen—No, maybe, yes, if you
I have already begun making rings out of scotch tape, and by eighteen
someone will be slipping them onto my thumbs
(made easy with wet indigo gouache).
(or maybe it is not pigment but bruising, some slow purpling dripping from my fingers to
Three Thanksgivings ago I shut myself into my room and cried and when my parents
I said it was because I missed my grandmother (it was because I didn’t like the
This year the girl had a blue tang on her forearm and the sticker was mine
(I was saving it)
I don’t like Thanksgivings anymore.
I wonder if by marriage I will be skilled enough to be able to sew
blue tangs into my skin so no one can take them,
like my grandmother did when she etched all the jujubes
her stepmother never let her eat
into brown spots on her hands, all the
untrue words my grandfather said about her into lines on her forehead (then she
planted the heartache in her body and
died from it)
I think, I am just three maotais away
from enlightenment, three broken bodies and a tapestry tree
I think, I am dressed wrong—this scarf does not go with my skin and neither does the
I am turning a bit red, you see, from red bean beads (of sweat, I think) and
speckled mango skin
(To paint it in pretty words, they call it the glow, as if we are lightbulbs)
I am turning a bit red and a bit blue (for lack of air) and so a bit purple,
like the day my mother cried because she lost her mother and I had to fake
to pretend that I could still cry over it, when really they had all dried up
in my eyes like gouache eventually does and
I think she probably wanted to see me get married but she never did
and she never will.
Rachel Zhu lives in New York and is currently a junior at Horace Mann School. She is the cofounder and Editor in Chief of Horace Mann’s creative prose magazine, LitMag. Outside of school, Zhu writes creative short prose and poetry, and is also an artist and ceramicist. She draws influence from her Chinese background and culture as well as classical European and American works of literature. Through her work, she hopes to inspire other Asian Americans to express their stories and experiences through the world of humanities and art.