Black coffee tastes of San Francisco, half-moon nights
above the cigarette-murky sidewalks, words gone stale
in the mouths of adolescents. I once read of a girl
whose skin welted from all the secrets she kept
tucked under her tongue. When I was twelve and voiceless,
I scribbled poetry between the lines of my geometry notebook,
inked and purple, seeping into the curls of parabolas
and the shivers of cubic functions. You see, the paper bruises,
(Little secrets in alleyways after sundown:
the bearded man with a port-wine stain on his left cheek
and a guitar with the first two strings knocked out like teeth.
The woman in the jewelry store who hides bruises
with diamond-laced giggles and cherry-red lipstick.
The girl who has frequented the same cafe
for the past three months: ink-stained teeth,
skin torn down to the bone, and a penchant for black coffee
under the glare of half-moon nights.)
Lily Zhou is fifteen years old and a high school sophomore from the San Francisco Bay Area, where it is never quite cold enough to snow. Her writing has been recognized by Scholastic Art & Writing, has appeared in Phosphene Literary Journal and Textploit, and is forthcoming in Glass Kite Anthology. When not writing, she can be found drinking bubble milk tea, solving a sudoku puzzle, or playing the flute.