Solace by Katherine Liu

It is perhaps three in the afternoon

and the children are playing —

gathered in the curve of the neighborhood,

the sweep beneath a hill.


They drag out boxes of chalk,

grating color into dark concrete

and their fingerpads.

They wave bubble wands.

They swarm and flap

their arms, shuffling out a



She stands still.

She clips her nails in her mouth

until a swell of blood flushes out

from the bed,

a swell of salt; and the other children

are still throwing

handfuls of bubbles into the sky,

spinning out over the roofs —

bubbles shivering in the wind, quavering

and lurching incandescent insides,

suds bursting across her face —

her lips around her thumb.