Mammalian – Xiaole Zhan

By August 9, 2019 August 15th, 2019 2019 award winner


mamma, your back is flowered dark red and purple perfect circles, mamma, fleshy hills along the road
of your spine, your blood suctioned to the surface of your skin, you tell me it helps with your pain,
paints you the colour of tender bruises, blisters oozing with yellow liquid along the rim of each cup,
too much moisture in the body, you say, I imagine the body as a dark cave, bones dripping stalactites,
corroding canals and canals, there seems to be such a fine line between hurting and healing, mamma,
remember sleeping in the summer, mamma, the mosquitoes plodding down on our wet skins, bellies
fat with the mingling of our blood, the watery softness of your flesh in the dark startled me, mamma, I
imagined you old and soft and dead beneath my arms, remember when we made tomato soup together,
and I couldn’t cut a tomato without the insides pulping out, red, red, the raw warmth of it round in my
belly, remember when you told me you’d never be able to hate me, mamma, and I’m sorry for all my
livid love, mamma, all this tender violence, and you’re doubled over dripping snot onto the road,
sobbing how could you do this to me how could you do this to me, and I was the size of a kitten, you
say, when I was born, and when I mewed for you in the dark you thought you’d imagined it, you say,
you thought you’d lost me, lost me, and they say the heart is a muscle the size of a fist, mamma, your
nails are bloodied with the seeping bruise of my heart, mamma, and there’s all this blood between us,
mamma, all this blood because of us, mamma. there’s such a fine line between hurting and loving


Portrait Xiaole Zhan
Xiaole Zhan
Year 13
Westlake Girls’ College

Leave a Reply