Calabash by Max Zhang

When we were small we would walk in between the cold, dying firs,
past the fissures in the sides of the grain silo without saying a single word.
The slide came into view first and we tested our speed, flannel jackets 
dropping onto the frosted grass as we tore up the dirt in our contest.
But soon, when we had had enough of the slide and our butts too cold to
be pressed against the metal for any longer, we wobbled our way
to the garden where the calabash hung from their vines and 
gyrated with the wind. We would feast on their flesh, hum loudly in our 
false delight as if the fruit was a lozenge to our parched esophaguses  

You told me that, in Calabasas, they don’t have calabashes. The sun shines 
every day and palm trees are your only clouds. Slides are too hot to slide down,
you pipped brightly, and cracks in public infrastructure are filled up
within a week. It is brighter, greener, so you do not want to come back.
There is no life here. 

Last week, I walked to the garden and found that my feet know my weight too well. 
My legs did not threaten to buckle. The calabash coated my tongue with umami. 


Copyright © Max Zhang. Originally published on as the 3rd place Winner of the 2019 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize, senior category.


Max Zhang was born in Burnaby, Canada, but spent most of his childhood living in Beijing, China. His poetry often regards his own experiences, and he drinks more coffee than he probably should while writing it. This fall, Max will attend the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a BS in Economics at the Wharton School.

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