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Eighteen in the Time of Entropy

Artwork by Joanna Chen, staff artist

I think I expected to open, like some clam, perhaps,

or a rusted padlock, or the mouth of a stirring lion.

The way I imagined it, I'd boast strings of pearls

in place of my veins, glossy and chiseled-like teeth,

bits and pieces of everything that I had never known.

At the dental office, my hygienist tells me to open.

You poor girl, she mourns. No prom, no graduation.

In my weightlessness I laugh, stare at the ceiling as if

I'm enough parts helium to float above it. I savour

the newly-chipped plaster, the little revelations.

In one possibility, I open fire on my reflection.

I'll have kicked and pried and loosened the glass

‘til I'm changed, with dyed hair and a pierced helix,

doing taxes at the dinner table. The threshold was

easy here, certain as an exhale, as a dam caving in.

In another, I never open. I feel the pearls soiling

between my ribs, doughy, drained of memory.

In this one I'm still a child and the threshold is

barbed with giggling teeth, circled by lions. I am

phony, held hostage by the barreling forward.

There's nothing I want more than air, a kind of open

that stays. Time, like most sicknesses, is a reminder

that beggars can't be choosers. I can only hope, then,

that this is the slow awakening from hibernation, that

sooner or later, I will know the gleam of fullness.

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