Poetry: Girlish, Too by Stephanie Chang

In “Girlish, too,” the speaker navigates the “white kingdom” of the Midwest which can be overwhelming for folks deemed as “other.”; at the end of the poem, though, they announce their resilience: “There are more things unbroken here /than what they could possibly have you believe.”

Girlish, too


I follow home the lunar wire of bone and breath. Thank you, moon.

Thank you, mother, father. Tomorrow a man will squirt my eyes


with plum juice, crack open the earth on my proud forehead.

A rabbit will visit my bedside and hand me the definitive contract


for my future: barista, lawyer, magical girl. I want to feel the closest

thing to want, before the hospital bed resurfaces on every bed


of grass I lie in. I can be a little girlish, too. In this white kingdom

that delivers Capri Sun by IV drip. The wet currency of love


so slimy in my hands. I take a knife to the bathroom mirror,

copper the scales off my backside, coming up with angry


welts of anemone. Coins oiled in the memory of steamed fish.

Then my mother materializing in the backyard, the one we


never had, spider-limbed and screaming for her husband to come

home, can’t he smell the supple meat, stinky tofu, pineapple buns


we pressed between her thighs. The hymen we melted in a hot pot

broth. Tell me the story where I was born vomiting color, paradise


fortuned in every fold in my palms. That night, so terrifying

did I ever tell you about it? The rabbit multiplying by the millions


each time with the wrong face. Tessellation of red paper snowflakes

and sirens. I wanted to forget every garish smile. I never woke up


so fucking alone. Girl who was never supposed to arrive home

in such a ruined body. This Midwest town of miscellaneous cosmic


horrors. Let me cheer you on by the finish line, dress myself in

miracles that don’t qualify as miracles. At least they will do for now


at least for us. Don’t cry. At least we can say there’s still a heartbeat

to the crime scene. The bones of rabbits warped across the end


of the world. The rabbit rolling its head into my lap, rolling into

dough, then a moon of mortar, where my eyelashes grow into lilies


then fields of laughter. There are more things unbroken here

than what they could possibly have you believe.


Stephanie Chang

Stephanie Chang (she/they) is a Chinese Canadian writer and freshman at Kenyon College. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Kenyon Review, Waxwing, wildness, Penn Review, and others. She is the recipient of the 2021 Adroit Prize for Poetry, judged by Carl Phillips. Currently, she edits for Sine Theta Magazine and serves as an Associate at the Kenyon Review.

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