Anthropocene

      Shenyang, China
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.

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