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  • Joanne Zhang

white light

Style: n/a

Statement: n/a

there’s a monster in my body

who wears my face,

but it’s not mine.

it can’t be mine.

there’s something repulsive

about looking in the mirror—

at least, why couldn’t she have been

a giant cockroach,

a yellow-eyed creature with green skin?

it’s hard to tell

where the world ends and

where I begin and

what is she, anyway? a puppeteer?

in some dizzy dream,

she paints on a different face

for each person I know.

no one can tell the difference but me—


she says I must be a collage,

a splintered mirror, a hundred silhouettes,

words and perceptions and idiosyncrasies,

glued together haphazardly.

I pull on the strings

and she tugs at the same time

our frozen joints sit at odd angles,

painted faces perfectly set.

if I grip the strings until they

leave marks on my fingers

will I find her? except—I’m the puppeteer,

and control is in my hands, so—

—I call for her and there’s no one

to be found but me, and if so, then,

here. construction paper, glue, glitter;

am I not the one with the pumping heart?

in the mirror, the face the monster sees

is mine, more me than me.

if I pick it apart I find white light,

unperceivable, unknowable.

then there, she must know

that is the color that lights the stage

and slackens every string.

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