August presses against me like something thick and heavy,
sweet perfume clinging to air swollen with humidity.
Thunder roiling in clouds like wet wool,
apricots ripening and rotting in a blue bowl
on the kitchen counter.
A shimmering haze, thick enough to taste like
herbs on your tongue,
with bones weighty and bruised like thudding fruit,
and heartbeats a second too late, flickering and skipping
through half-dark nights.

Here I stand in the middle of a month,
passing through spaces misted tired and lonely;
my feet drift over earth not quite real,
and my lungs sweat through clouds of dust.
I think I want to find September, but I don’t know how.
There are only unboxed days in shades of orange and plum,
swimming in memories of laughter and
two hearts flickering in a 2:00 a.m. dark.
There is only August, always August,
pressing against me like something well-meaning but frightening.
It smiles and coaxes a spoon into my mouth
even when I turn my head.

Sarah M. Zhou is a Chinese-American student from the Chicagoland area. Her work has previously been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and by Vertigo, her high school’s literary magazine. A lover of surrealism, vaguely melancholic songs, and the small town aesthetic, she finds afternoons as a concept both intriguing and unsettling. Catch her on Instagram at @sarahmzhou.