A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Helli Fang



What makes it so easy
for a sewer to swallow

the last vestiges of rain
is impossible for my body

to understand. How we tear
apart from the surface, all

spark and religion, and tell
each other the same dream: still

crippled beneath the weight
of a penumbra, its blisters

loosened from bone, our
mothers scuttling at our heels

pinning our shadows
to telephone wires. A string

quartet wearing the city
‘s heartbeat learns the truth

of limerence: hands
scrape a ribcage open

to spill what is holy. We never
lose ourselves completely

but I lost a phoenix once,
in the mouth of a storm

and it gripped me with such
agony I forgot how

empty a body can feel
when its throat shuts down

like night: & before it flew
away i asked if it

was lonely
and it took my body and broke it

My most treasured souvenir is a tiny box filled with four dolls made of pressed paper and colored thread. These are 'worry dolls', or small handmade dolls that originate from Guatemala. The tradition is to place these dolls under your pillow and sleep over your sorrows, and by the next morning, the dolls will have taken them away. A Guatemalan student at my school, now one of my closest friends, passed these out to us, and although most brushed them off as a cute, superstitious trinkets, I felt a powerful sense of compassion for these dolls. To swallow human suffering and spin it into nothingness is no simple feat-- it filled me with the urge to go out into the world and set free all the birds caged in by pain and fear.

Helli Fang is a senior at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts, and will be attending Bard College in the fall. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Glass Kite Anthology, Wildness, and Yellow Noise, and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Bennington College, Columbia College of Chicago, and The Adroit Journal. She has also attended the Iowa Young Writer's Studio. When Helli is not writing, she enjoys playing the violin and climbing trees.