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Janna Tay


this was her idea:

how to get through the winter and

thrive. I thought this impossible, but now sun

wafts through cloudy panes, lifting quietly

by degrees the heat, thinking how much light

do you think a room could hold /

do you think these hands could bear /

do you think this body could sing?


I tell her the last time I burned this way I was fever.


in autumn she plants sunflowers,

and when the storms arrive

they press their faces against the glass,

humming thunder.

in their midst, fruit trees appear

from childhood gardens, over there

my mother’s herbs,

yucca, bonsai my father tended,

paving stones he laid

carefully, with hands I have forgotten.

should these go in a greenhouse?

there are memories we cannot account for.


in June she tells me to plant something.

I bury my heart beneath the fig tree so I can

eat again. this is not enough so I bury

eyes, some hair, a limb. why don’t you

plant something that will grow, she says.

I watch my fingers in the soil, pulling furrows.

I bury shame, pride, some joy.


come summer, she unfolds

like reverse origami; she rivers

into sea / I cannot follow.

summer, the house seems a cage

though I am happy to linger

she wants to dismantle it, but I cannot bear

to see the frame strewn across the yard,

the glinting panes of a ship beached,

a body discarded,

a soul unhoused,

so look away, she says.

I do.

I don’t look back.

Janna Tay studies law, politics, and philosophy at the University of Auckland. She holds a diploma in classical piano and runs a literature blog at Her work has appeared in Polyphony H.S. and -Ology Journal.