Dorsal surface of a mouse skull
as unflinching as its neck.
Circle close just above clavicle,
spiraling outward, slippage
then clean, sharp clamping,
feel the bone shutter before
quieting the unquietness.
A sentiment that has not left me since:
I’d rather have my heart routinely broken,
you break mine, I’ll break yours. That way,
you’re never out of practice. That way,
you can really feel this world.
Which is to say, so, and, now.
Contrast like this & like that.
Some days I count my rings or cut
bits of myself, rendering edges.
Fold myself inwards, dissect nerve
endings, tangling myself in circulation
memories like fishhooks tearing vertebra.
Let me question, how deep is skin
to the inner fascicle of taunt muscle.
Death is enjambment. Intravenous fluids
shudder like hand sanitizer. Isn’t it ironic
IV transverses Rome tumbling into
Caspian Sea, motherland to embody death,
third tone jolting. Do you ever regret
doubt—doubt regret? No flowers, elegies
promises. Room filled with unflinching.
Ellen Zhang (she/her) is a student at Harvard Medical School who has studied under Pu- litzer Prize winner Jorie Graham, poet Rosebud Ben-Oni, and poet Josh Bell. She has been recognized by the 2022 DeBakey Poetry Prize, 2022 Dibase Poetry Contest, and as 2019 National Student Poet Semifinalist. Her works appear or are forthcoming in Rappahannock Review, COUNTERCLOCK journal, Hekton International, and elsewhere. She can be found on instagram @ln.writes.