instead of having to say i'm falling apart because grief is easier to rename, i spend my night awake & press my back to the dark damp wood of my bed. there'd been black birds flitting above the crosshatched grass & a howl here so strong it shakes the pawpaw tree. i'm filled with the need to stay & i choose to stay this time for once with all my deep sins. the world tells me, i am a tree. i live in a spot on a train's track that leads to nowhere. i touch myself— & at the next stop, i meet a girl who wears a stain— the stain on rubble like scarves around her neck. living can be an act of loss. i don't know how to define mercy. my mother is a map of holes dressed in hooded vestment. my father is questioned for marriage fraud. my uncle dies from self-harm in a detention centre. my sister is a false minor— she wears white & became a shadow. my brother is a bird we return to the sky as smoke. it's funny being here & a memory of motion. i'm no one's daughter— a child with a hole in her throat. how did i get here? & in my hands, a whisper— war. what every child knows but rarely discuss. violence is my country's boyfriend. nothing else cuts the air quite like this movie of blood blinking lively like popcorns along its numb scar. what leaves you half dead? what strips the precluded fascination with flowers? what paints you in colors with the blunt edge of a practiced tongue until gray appears on your earlobes like stoned cattle? i've lost track of the times i have hope for something so simple & sweet to sip: jawbreakers. i confess i am a double ended wick & i carried it for justice & the wind.