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IR ONLINE POETRY: “Mardi Gras” by Emily Yin

Pink plastic beads      strung round my neck for Mardi Gras,

relic of my girlhood      like Tamagotchis & Silly Bandz &—carry this,

it’s Zinfandel, the type of wine my mother used to sip      before bedtime,

eyes welling      with unshed tears. Three flasks      bundled

into a flannel shirt we’ll be late

for the party placed tenderly      into my dumbstruck arms.

Go on now      into the hallway crackling with silence,

into the gasping night. & I—& I, all gaping wide-eyed wonder—

I’m acting so terribly young      tonight.

Still, these are the things about which

I’ll write: dollar-store mascara clumping

like darkened snow, a dim halo dismantling

my upturned face, bare skin brooking no lies—so yes,

maybe I’ll play pretend for just a while

here, in this strange world light years from my own

here, with this boy who swears      I’m indestructible.

So this is what they call a rager, strobe lights flickering

against the drywall spilled beer sullying      the floor, a ripple

of bodies weaving through the dark,

together & alone. His hands      are sculpting me into being,

Descartes was wrong, I’m touched

therefore I am. Tell me. Five drinks downed,

fifty, something I don’t know, fifty stars on that flag, I don’t know

about you, I didn’t know

what he might do. (But to be ignorant is one thing,

to be willfully blind quite another.)

Forgive me.      I’m still learning

to absolve myself of all the things I did & did not do. I confess to want,

to gluttony. But can you blame the starving for their hunger

or the nomad for his thirst? I admit

to revising history, creating another time & place

where I’m almost happy, redacting the inescapably bitter end.

Forgive me.      I’m still learning

to remember.


Emily Yin is a freshman studying applied math at Princeton University. Her writing has been recognized by the UK Poetry Society and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, among others. She currently serves as poetry editor for the Nassau Literary Review.