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.