Two Poems | by Sheng Kao

sunshine in december

i put my thumb in an orange / i danced in the kitchen / my mouth sticky like yellow honey / you dropped all the garlic on the floor / we smelled like burning rice / i put my thumb on an orange’s navel and i pulled all its white strings out / i left my socks on / i wore a small planet in my hair but i let you take it out / the daffodils are coming early this year / the orange makes the same sound as my skin ripping open / but that was an ocean ago / at the perihelion of our lying / here come the gentle questions / and how many boys did i kill in high school / so what if it’s not the full moon yet / i think about your body too much / how you ripened beneath me / how easily a peach bruises / how the night irradiated us until we glowed / i couldn’t bear to give you to the rising light / to the burning pine / to where we scraped blood off the snowbanks / i remember how your mouth glimmered when we parted / how we spilled water between our bodies and how when we woke up, it became salt / what i would give for the morning to breathe on our faces again / for the sun to disturb your hair / you turned my neck purple with want / we soothed ourselves in eucalyptus oil / when the sun came, my heart burst like a pomegranate / and we drank the morning out of each other




so two wings were clipped off, and four remained.

and my wounds festered in your bed. and the wound festering that was your mouth refusing to close. my skin refusing to close. and the wet red auroras emerging from my back. the smallest death. ive never had sex that wasn’t violent. ive never had sex that didnt end in salt.

my mouth full of it. salt. your hands refusing to un-redden. your mouth full of my hands. my hands scored open by the byssus of your hair. my mouth splintered by one word. or two. or more. the inflamed light of sunrise becoming a medium i can’t talk through. i have choked on a thousand mornings. i have awoken in a body mangled by knives.

there is no magic in fire. i know by now how burning feels. how to sift through ash crevassed by glowing heat. i am a fever learning to talk. once i wrote a poem about needles in me, pulling me apart. today i learned thats acupuncture. thats healing. to learn my own parts. i am still naming my loss.



Sheng Kao is 19 years old, and attends Oberlin College. Her work has appeared in or will soon appear in publications such as Noble / Gas Qtrly, Vagabond City Lit, and Apogee Journal.