Self-Portrait as Undiscovered Planet
Always I’ve dreamed of waking up in the house
with everyone I love in it. With the thunderstorm
& the monarch butterflies that I never cared
enough to name. In the new city I learn history
from the whales, discover my body as pitcher
after pitcher of untouched water. In the summer
you shoot the moon out of its orbit. Here are all
of its inhabitants: the rabbit & the stone children
& the woman you met once in a laundromat
with the vials of elixir. & so on. That summer
we boarded up the windows, crafted new light
out of a deck of cards. Afterwards we could call it
an act of creation. Godlike. At this rate sunlight
won’t reach me for six years. I raise the cattle.
I grow soybeans through wooden slats.
The universe swivels out of reach & so all
the war stories begin. & so you turn archer,
& so the thunderstorm destroys every color
I love. The sky spins & spins. Here’s the way
all of my war stories end: with the shark
closing in on my feet, with acres of farmland
& so many faces I don’t recognize.
Lily Zhou is a freshman at Stanford University. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2017, Tin House, Sixth Finch, Vinyl, Waxwing, The Adroit Journal, and NightBlock. She has been nominated twice for Best of the Net.