I know a girl who knows the secret
to the holiest of all daily rituals:
she says that it's brushing your teeth.
She says that that's when you can really
see yourself, your smile in the mirror,
all exposed in your half-consciousness.
She tells me that there is something about
waiting to slip in between day & night
that gives the mind a sense of solitude,
a sense of remembrance. One of the most
important things in life is to remember --
that's where the rushing water helps, the act
of cleansing brings back the memory
of things near forgotten.
We define holy acts by their division of spheres,
& how they intersect with the planes of reality
that we create for ourselves.
She tells me about her dreams, and how
she wants to split her mouth open with
the flowers in her words; she doesn't like
marigolds anymore, & believes that
it's about time for the poppies & the
peonies to blossom again, a skeleton built
from the bones that bloomed from the
remains of her memory. Oftentimes,
aftermath is measured by the wounds that
they leave; here, there weren't any left to be seen.
Here, she let all of the water run the
bitterness of words from the back of her
throat, so that she can sigh in her own skin,
and learn to wear bones that won't
crumble as easily as they used to.
Here is where she washes herself of the past
and builds a new body again.
Stephanie Tom is a Chinese-American poet and a rising freshman at Cornell University. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poetry has either appeared or is forthcoming in Rising Phoenix Review, the Blueshift Journal, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among other places. In addition, she has previously been recognized by the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards, and the international Save the Earth Poetry Contest.