Every day I sit on a street and the sky looks like smoke
in reverse. It moves in a cycle of sleepless stripes, sullied morning air.
The skin flushes open again and I wrap around brackish bruises
like a used bandage. Here are churches designed to keep God close by,
perhaps in some anecdotal river. Here Bethlehem,
here Eden, here the River Jordan. I made them up—
I let every stranger in. Snake, slipping his tongue under my skirt,
thrashing against this body he broke, reset
and broke again. A finch drops out of a tree.
It lies sprawled, bloody wings outstretched.
I hear a familiar rattle,
forked tongue undressing
its damned feathers
but I do not
Joyce Ker is a student at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, California. She is the Prose and Poetry Editor of Vertigo, her school's literary magazine. Ker has attended the California State Summer School for the Arts and the Iowa Young Writer's Studio. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Nancy Thorpe Poetry Contest.