Illustration: glow of red lantern in forest darkness


clings on to muted summer heat. this is
the end we have all been waiting for,

guilt slathered on the cortex of
some parasitic tree. roots mimicking

cartographer, mapping out a rite
of passage that leads to the afterlife.

we watch the days strangle themselves
in the late august afternoon, caught

with asphyxiation. our brittle
palms slashing across half-baked

stalks of grass. tongues simmered
in closure. there is nothing as brutal

as replacement: the sultry exhale
of midsummer evenings morphing

into autumn. the fall equinox
lacerating our limbs. so this is what

it feels like to be on the receiving end
of a blade. we will dodge everything

that evaporates in this transition.
instead surveilling the moon, licked

with greed. playing trickster until
the clocks splinter the twilight.

we will scamper into forest, mistaking
maple leaves for the red of lanternlight.

oblivious to the burial under foliage.
in illusion. we will forget everything

in the morning, metamorphosed into
a corpse, expiring in the rising wind.

Jessica Kim is a writer based in California with works appearing or forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Semicolon Lit, and more. Her poems have recently been recognized by the National Poetry Quarterly and Pulitzer Center. She loves all things historical and sour.

Lantern illustration by C.B. Auder.

NEXT – The Sun Rose Over the Decade….

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