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Maiden Dissonance


Artwork by Joanna Chen, staff artist

For years, I had a recurring dream that I lost control.

In the ash and haze, my ghostly hands passed clean through the steering wheel.

When I wake to this world, I pass cars crushed to dust on the side of the highway.

I fear neither death nor life but the inevitability of them both.

And the choices in between.


I sold my innocence and indecision for their worth in temporal gold.

I sold my soul for maidenhood. An excess of faith spills past its imprint

In ichor and smoke.


The peddler shook her head, so that strands of silver fell out of her headscarf.

“I wish they were rosaries,” she confessed

When I took the thin-threaded gold necklace off her feeble hands.

“I do too.” I wanted to say but I held my breath.

“Where are you going?” She asked. “Far.” I answered. She didn’t reply.

The loop circled in my hands and around my neck, shaping itself like the rim of the jar

Holding fireflies and the glowing desperation

Of a suffocated, wasted world.


A mother and her daughter sit on the train in front of me.

The mother holds her hand and the little girl watches the clouds become a haze.

Everyone has everywhere and nowhere to go.

I feel a pang for both the past and the future.


Another little girl lived life in the hypothetical.

I don’t know her anymore. My mother’s wedding chain weighs heavy on my neck.

I sit in the driver’s seat and see the world from her eyes.

I betrayed my innocence and indecision and grew up.


When did I get to be so tall?

I’m overflowing out the windows of my childhood home

And slipping past the cracks of lovers’ hollow hearts.

I was a child, just teaching myself to breathe. I wrote a note for me now-

“Please don’t ever believe that you were foolish to hope.”


Back then, I thought that I couldn’t imagine a death worse than a life unrealized.

But, I had to live, and I learned that I would never die for love.


The ghostly train passes the burning world outside its glass windows.

Smoke howls through its chimneys. We go through this life and the next.

My hand lingers on the necklace above my hollow chest.

I pass the thread through my fingers, and pray.


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