andrew kang


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.