about the author

Juliana Chang is a rising sophomore at Stanford University majoring in Linguistics. She has big dreams of being a poet-neuroscientist but awfully small hands. Her favorite things include the word (not the food) “taco,” her dog Momo, curly fries, and Sarah Kay poetry.

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Juliana Chang

if you really must know
there is a small ship
inside my belly button.
it sets sail on Sunday nights,
across a tangle-wave of telephone lines,
always drifts safely into my mother’s palms.

if you really must know,
the only cargo on board is carnage
names shaken loose from the gaps of my teeth,
heartbeats stuttering between thorns,
the echo of a footstep fallen wrong.
she carries them to shore in armfuls of baskets,
gives them resting ground in her ribcage.
the skeletons in my closet built graveyards in hers.
long after the storms have battered my hulls
drifted unsteady ponds between the floorboards,
she holds on to the wreckage with both hands,
carries it below her breath like an anchor.

if you really must know,
there is a small ship
inside my belly button.
it travels down a phantom route,
down artery, down oxygen,
toward a harbor my mother built
on the first day of my existence.
the sails are forever up,
                     as if to say
the blood lines had never really been cut
                     as if to say
there is room here for your sorrow
                     as if to say
throw a letter into the ocean,
watch the ink melt into water
into home

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