Bear Mountain Zuihitsu

This selection is part of NonBinary Review Issue #6: 1001 Arabian Nights. Get NonBinary Review #6 from the Zoetic Press website. 

They say that children grow faster in the springtime.
It’s October and I have grown a few thousand feet.
In space you cannot cry because there is no gravity to make the tears flow.
Every year the arches of my feet cramp and burn like my first droplets of vodka
but it is an easier remix every time.
There are more ways to shuffle a deck of cards than there are atoms on earth.
The hiking stairs’ arthritic backs rise into the distance like joggers.
On average, two newborns will be given to the wrong parents every day.
Conversing ghosts pass with eyes like used cigarettes as sweat leaks down my
A dragonfly has a lifespan of twenty-four hours.
I have climbed for one-twelfth of a life.
Watching suffering is a type of voyeurism.
It wasn’t the stray cat yowling outside my bedroom but the motion-sensitive light
against my curtains that woke me up.
A lion in the wild usually makes no more than twenty kills a year.
I wonder how many lives I have trampled underfoot.
A Virginia law requires all bathtubs to be kept inside the house.
Deciduous trees blast icy mist into my face in target practice. Once I accidentally
kicked the bathtub faucet and all the blood was washed away.
Owls are the only birds that can see the color blue.
Clouds peer through the burnished plastic window of an express-mailed envelope.
The first time I saw a fallen sparrow egg I almost dared myself to touch the first feathers.
At top speeds, a pigeon can fly up to ninety miles an hour when chased by a running
I used to pace the lake in hopes of getting a glimpse of Ophelia’s eyelids. People
would race each other across the water to conquer a garland of rocks.
Almonds are a member of the peach family.
Trees outshine the sun like expensive pearls against skin.
The Bible is the world’s most shoplifted book.
Fistfuls of rose- and ginger-colored leaves sprout in my pocket like islands.
Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end.
My brain scatters like confetti as my muscles propel me at the rate and weight of
the words of a magistrate.
In ten minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all the world’s nuclear weapons
If I could live for ten minutes I would sit at this view again.
In the Arctic, the sun sometimes appears to be square.
I have taken a hundred photos of leaves and bark and rocks and birds because I
will never know this place again.
According to myth, Persephone leaves for the underworld each fall. Her mother mourns
and the earth becomes barren and cold.
I thumb a quarter into the binoculars not to watch the valley but to look for
the sharpened city buildings of my home.
The giants are kneeling. They see the sky.


NBR6ChensmallMichelle Chen is a fifteen-year old poet, writer, and artist who lives for paper mail, warm zephyrs, and fried noodles, and who takes inspiration for her writing from the events that occur in and around her home, New York City, though her birthplace is Singapore and she hopes to return to visit someday. She is the first-prize winner of the 2015 Knopf Poetry prize, the recipient of The Critical Junior Poet’s Award, and has performed at Lincoln Center. Her work has been honored both regionally and nationally in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and is forthcoming in the Sharkpack Poetry Review, Corium, Ember, and Night Train.

This piece previously appeared in Polyphony H.S.