You wake to the sound of glass, swiping
the impact-induced stars for sight.
Wincing at your sunset-bruised skin,
you tumble across concrete like a stale coin toss,
ready to confess. But when your eyes swell
like the bare coin bag in your hand,
with every toss that ends
in another, you only have one choice,
which is to draw.
In solitude, you try to recall yesterday’s skin-deep dream:
backhanded remarks as he cleared the cards
Through captivity, you learn
that the saturated smell of metal rusting
over every bet stings more than its sound.
That under the impression of love, there is cupidity,
which steals more time than love.
As your eyes trace his lips and the edges of his cigar,
he sits there, mustached, smoking his dreams.
Your ears turn numb from saccharine comments
that auto-populates on his tongue with every loss,
that darling, I am doing this, so we can sustain a life.
Once more, he reaches down to forfeit his coins,
giving up more than he owns.
As you now lay alone, in a yolk of prayers,
reflecting as the silver coin watches
in a smoky cumulus of mountains,
you tell the story, and the next over again.
That you created a cycle holding you back, always.
You’ve gambled your life for his and given him chances
that only brought you into his shadows
to the clunking sound of money that strikes his fingertips--
green and aching.
In burnt out daylight, you sit in front of judgment.
Every month, you absorbed the glow of the moon,
exchanging your emptiness for fuel — a phase
you felt closest to escaping. He was always hungry
when you were fullest, and next to him,
you find yourself slowly waning in existence.
With his greed, there will always be darkness,
clinging to all sides of you.
IV. New Moon
For the first time, you choke on freedom.
Stinted, when your eyes are drawn to the breaths of night.
The flickering shadows towering over you, outlining a figure,
which you have given up on--
only to find a flickering street-lamp, flaking and blackened.
And you look up again at the dark skies, wondering what might be different.
And you realize that when the light is stolen, so has the shadows.
You feel your mascara drip like the quill punctured letters eons ago--
the broken promises that you’ve forgiven for a chance
to love tonight.
Erin Shen (she/her) is a 16 year old high school junior from Georgia. Her writing has been published in Lumiere Review, Fledge magazine, and elsewhere. Her favorite places to travel to are Suzhou, China and California. When she is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and dancing.