I Am a Star in a Galaxy of Grandmothers

A poetry debut by high school student Mackenzie Duan

I Am a Star in a Galaxy of Grandmothers

Study of a supernova at the beach

The tulle of my grandmother’s dress
like a comet tail, a bouquet of algae

tonguing my feet. I track
the red sequins of her eyes

in the surf. Anything left
is mine to love: a spray of sand,

ropes of thunder. I hail
from a circle of grandmothers

racked by monsoons and orphaned
by metal. Their arms as warm and still

as the riptide. We dream
of lost time, the specter of a plane

after takeoff, tongues domesticated
into petals. I open my hands

to harbor. There’s the white wedding of foam,
the dusky pillows

of sea glass. Every sphere
begins as an infinity of circles. Every child

begins as an infinitive. My grandmother wailing
like a gulf

of sirens. Here we are: touched
by emergency, jettisoned

from empire. Under a sting of sky,
the supernova vaporizes

our one home. Crabs and starfish
respawning only as myths.

My grandmother cradles me
until our shapes

are atomized. Nothing
more loved than disaster.

Orange Saints

On Sunday my father takes my brother to the shooting
rang. The targets he ruptures are orange, unknown,

thumbprint small. When they stutter, I imagine the bullets
as comets fizzling out of an octave sky. Holes flexed

around the shapes of stillness, marked like tree rings. My father
shows him a photo of the muzzle flash, says: this is the sun

you'll inherit, as the rivers embrace oil spill, as the time capsules
decay to dirt. Know there exists an orange sun for every son. A grace

for every wildfire. Break a fever and burst it
orange, open. O, oath of bullets. Teach us how to plant our hearts like

flags on solid ground.

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