I told her she was a coagulation of serotonin
and rooftop kisses in 3AM thunderstorms.
She stuck out her tongue, turned,
ignited another fire with the sparkly onyx nail
her mother doesn’t like her painting, and
shrieked. Her fingertips are calloused
by vivace Mozart and burns. A smile nudged my lips,
so I bent to sweep up the ashes. Later,
in the brick cobweb doorway,
her tears sank into my collar like candlelight,
warm and heavy with the musk of familiarity,
because she was sick of searching for x
and finding B’s instead, so
I let her simmer in my arms,
wished she knew how grossly
more valuable the timbre of her laughter
and degree of her social skills (^6—my theory?
she can bridge any separation in the world)
are than the Scantrons and transcripts on which w
plot polar coordinates that only lead us in circles
to the integers we let define us. She shrugged,
lips pressed. y = zero.
(I asked her what was more important:
lighting your own matches
or watching, calculating
the rate at which we burn.)
Lillian is a 17-year-old gal with chronic vagabond symptoms, but her heart’s more or less obliged to smelly onion roots, so Chicago’s lucky enough in that sense. Her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, New Voices Young Writers, and Sierra Nevada College.