the highways backspace into trees, turn the forest to a dividend. i don’t know if any language has a word for light so vivid it begins to bruise. the farmland
retreats into itself: a disintegration finer than dust. i tell my grandmother a story with no end, tell the children to blow into piles of sand—watch them epicenter
in cracked earth, our criminality sealed by mother’s unburied body.
in the hunger of a new morning, my mother let us footprint our consumption into her skin. to the roots of her hair, we anchored
ourselves, found a vantage point for both body & aspiration. somebody urged us to leave the drill on land—or maybe that was only a fever dream, one that evaporated like steam
before suits could say oh, please. by the time we figured it out, it was too late: mother had always been sicker than we thought she was. in our gutted hometown, she’s bobbing facedown in the shore.
Kate Li is a high schooler from the Chicagoland area. She has previously been recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Columbia College of Chicago, World Bank, From the Bow Seat, and other organizations.