Say the universe didn’t begin with a bang
but with a whisper. Say the stars were
crystallized by their fear of being forgotten.
Say there was life outside of our solar system;
somewhere in a pocket of secrets is a planet
no wider than we know the sea to be deep &
there lives a child that only knows how to
bury seeds but not how to water them.
It believes in nature not nurture, & believes
in the moon. Every night the sunset fades
into silk & silence as it appears, pockmarked
& partitioned into ruby red craters like a
pomegranate. The child stretches onto
dewy grass & reaches upwards. In his dreams
he can cradle the moon in his palms & pick
a jewel out of each crater. They melt on his
tongue & he swallows the heart at each center.
He laments the bitter aril that surrounds each
one & wishes that they would not choke him
every time. The stars don’t know how to tell him
that the bitterness is born from the seeds that
he buries, & that he is only tasting the fruits of
his labor. A seed can only grow when it’s watered
& a jewel can only bloom into sweet syrup when
it’s rooted in remembrance. But he never learns.
In his dreams, the child plucks the craters clean
& loses himself in a solar system without stars.
Stephanie Tom is a Chinese-American high school student living in New York. She is the managing editor of her school newspaper and an executive editor of her school literary magazine. Her writing has previously been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Save the Earth Poetry Contest, the International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 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.