The Apologist

WRITTEN BY MICHELLE HUANG

on a rainy sunday afternoon, the apologist

goes into a phone booth the shape of her skull

and dials 1-800-REGRETS


a green flask of grief strangled

by her fingers dangles by her side.

she slides into the coin slots


round, metallic disks of her hardened blood

and as she waits for a response she swigs

a whisper of grief, smooth and defeated

down her throat.


on the other side of the receiver

unknown faces, amicably quiet,

bring to her the breathing of her apologees


thankfully quiet and thankfully asleep

who do not yet know of this strange alcoholism

and she presses the receiver closer to her cheeks


her tears sealing the deal

between plastic and flesh

like a kiss.


her breath, tainted with grief,

hits the receiver and curls back into her nostrils

its fumes an acute sting that muddles her brain,


melting open her heart like effacing a caul

from a sodden newborn, and like a newborn

she wails, deep into the small mouth


of her flask, stirring the grief

whose fumes circle down her throat

and fill a decanter the shape of her stomach.


grief came back to her, long after midnight

where, the empty flask of it loitering

until the witching hour to gleam


rose again from her body as black ink—

the fleeting kind that stains––

a momentary black that reverts to skin.


it stains her brain a fuming pitch

and in the morning, she reaches for them—

hard little pellets


with their strings of vowels and consonants,

her own hard-packed clumps of DNA—

and smears them onto a page.

Michelle is a sophomore currently attending Shanghai American School Pudong. She aspires to study creative writing and journalism after high school and enjoys playing the cello in her spare time. Her works generally center around an introspective view of her surroundings and her Chinese family heritage.

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