Natalie Chao


The skies are blue and wavy from the heat, scorching my leafy home of vines and wire that hugs me tight when I sleep, even tighter when I finally awake. They dump water in buckets.

I open umbrellas and set out pots to collect the rain of the drip that never dries out, thirst that I never quench despite the gallons of “maybe” I consume. And there are still faces I dream of,

purrs of “it’s okay” I let sizzle in their ears, and hair I smooth down
while my own still sticks up on stilts of sweat.

There is still dirt under my feet and weeds between my teeth, but I spit into the ground and pray they are actually harboring seeds, and that my wrath will incubate new life.

There are bees still buzzing about my ears, names on their wings, names scrawled on my arm in black ink that never rubs away, but I read it over and over again until it sounds like music.

There is still, so much still hanging damp in the air, hanging off my eyelashes and clouding my bleary vision. I remember I am still a bud, that they only find beauty in flowers, and I fester.

But then Persephone tumbles out of the ground and winks at me, slashes the vines from my limbs, and watches me limp free into the undergrowth, not a bud or a seed or a bee, but a girl.


Natalie Chao is a sophomore at Penn originally from Greenbelt, Maryland. Aside from writing, she enjoys watching old movies, finding new music, and helping create protest art at her part-time job at Spiral Q. Her favorite book of all time is The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia.