Back to Issue Twenty-Two.

Girlhood

BY JOYCE ZHOU

 

Mama grew up along the infected shoulder of a town
Where laundry and children hung out open and greasy.
One night, as we prepared the raw pears to steam for
Lunar New Year, my mother told me about that crackle
Of old neighborhood radios and kids who seemed to
Curl off the streets like smog, heaving a kind of glory
Like loose change and tasteless bubble gum. Mama still
Remembers the meatless January when she learned
What it meant to be doglike in the way only a hemline
Could be vulgar. For her, this was how girlhood had
Become forbidden: in the quiet bluntness of a gaze, in
A new partition, in the same way we carry on now, a
Muted harvest, stripping pieces of skin and watching
The pears madden to fists in steam as if they were to
Become something we could hold without surrendering:
Inglorious bodies of flour and dust. 

 

 

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Joyce Zhou is a student at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois. Her work has been nationally recognized by Princeton University, Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, National Poetry Quarterly, Penguin Random House, National Council of Teachers of English PRESLM Awards, the Adroit Journal, and the Blueshift Journal, among others. She currently serves as a genre editor for Polyphony HS, senior editor-in-chief of her school’s literary magazine the Essence, and website manager for Textploit

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