I WILL WASTE MY LIFE
after James Wright
Up ahead, there’s a carillon chiming
past the streets and straight into the sea.
I climb my way to the bell tower
and stare at the Corinthian columns. The lettering
on the stone, plaques ivy has overgrown, all those
famous, ghastly faces, and I, alone: afraid
to recognize myself among them. In the summer,
my family and I go up to the Vineyards,
rent bikes, pack cantaloupe only to slurp piss clams,
good tourists that we are. I pedal fast, wheels cricketing
on gravel, so my parents won’t catch up, weighed
down by the melons. I see everything ahead,
the huckleberry garden, the gold-kissed bell-flowers
lining the driveways of this white-ivied town—
every window creaking with light, overflowing,
colonial. Sea spray clings to my sweat, waves crashing—
write that down, write that down. Carillon chiming past
and for a moment, the water stills, judging
how I skip over every reflection I see, my face growing
vines, how I hate the sound of my voice, how
it skipped over my parents, pulsing forward in the air,
how it kept tapping the water’s surface till it sank. I skip
only to wade back through the ripples—to pry them open
for flesh. How I dip my tongue in and lick. Then skip
home. I sink into a hammock. It curdles around me;
a wave. The piss clam: salt, cream, tang, rip,
flash, face, tongue. My mouth, stinging.
Poolside, summer roared
up every fold of skin, flapping
my bowl cut, dolphin laughter.
The Kool-Aid sparkled at the table
a white mom had set up.
She had red sunglasses and a golden
retriever. When my classmates came up
to refill their cups, pet the dog
and accidentally notice me,
their pale necks dripping
with what I’d learn to call my hunger,
I reached for the salad bowl and ate so much
that the mom had to turn away her face
as if she’d seen me naked.
Andrew Kang is a student from Baltimore, Maryland. Their work appears or is forthcoming in GASHER, Sine Theta, and Narrative.