/h zhang


I’ve forgotten the details but the
association remains somewhere in my brain,
neurons firing in a constant pattern
crimson swarm, blood to spill—goddess of death kind of, not quite.
The cashier asks if I am done pontificating
to myself, please press hard on the signature
pad so we can get this over with.
The fluorescent lights must work hard to reach the checkout line
from cathedral ceilings. I work hard as well
to fish the tree? the curse? was there
a curse? from the grade-school dust urn containing
hell lord husband, hearth home mother, dubious
consent; I do not succeed until I read my glowing palm.
Six seeds, one yanked from the gum line for each month.

Summer, scalloped edges of (colorized)

House special: all the leftovers tossed in 
one pan. Old rice is best for stir-frying 
anyways, and the last dimly-
lit egg in the brown carton. Sprouted garlic 
hiding among dark thoughts in the 
fridge, seasoning scraped between the old 
tile grout gaps, fine yellow sand behind your ear. 

Your bird protests, but she does not know winter. 

Soy sauce holds it all together. Flash of oily heat 
like the burning pavement. The human conditioned air 
clings to you with febrile claws. 

She is too scrawny for your threats to hold water, anyhow. 

Perhaps you imagine yourself the stove. A wave of the 
hand and the flame prickles your first skin. In this 
moment there is only scent and sighs, too much sweat, 
blue cloudy sky headache. 

But she will stir the pot, if you let her. 

The urge to rest pounds your blood, 
and it does not stop until you sink into the heat and 
turn liquid for your gravy. 


Hal Y. Zhang is alternately ruled by biological impulses for food and sleep. She writes on occasion at halyzhang.com.