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Ellen Zhang


I wish my words, I’m sorry, were a net catching you 

      as you fell towards the sea, face down, feet upwards, 

your lips O deflating into a singular grim line. Amid 

      slanted sunlight, your face crumbles like splashes 

into water, expansiveness. This is not a prayer. 

      This is not the waves lapping around your knees, 

you crying your child’s name, mourning for something 

      that will never return. This is merely seaweed breaking

to drift alongside gyre. All I offer you with my hands 

      open, palm lines slanting downwards, knuckles folding 

onto your knuckles, is merely an apology thrown wide 

      towards the wind who licks salt forward, prunes our desire, 

your grief, my hollowness. I want to say, You will survive

      the tsunami, the flood, & even the paperwork aftermath, 

as will the ones who come after you. Listen to the herons  

      who have survived all the storms. We sit and watch 

the sun seep into sepia, straddling both spillage 

      & space. Grief is an echo chamber, susurration 

carrying in the wind, pushing & pulling. Only rising. 

Ellen Zhang is physician-writer who has studied under Pulitzer Prize winner Jorie Graham and poet Rosebud Ben-Oni. She has been recognized by the DeBakey Poetry Prize, Dibase Poetry Contest, and as a National Student Poet Semifinalist. Her works appear or are forthcoming in Chestnut Review, The Shore Poetry, Hekton International, and elsewhere.

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