©2019 by Canvas Literary Journal

Published by Cosmographia Books

Background art “Camouflage” by Hyung Jin Lee

Canvas logo by Ali Wrona

little fires everywhere

Nicole Li

Autumn (Halloween) 2019

The ghosts come knocking at night, searching for a place

to go and I turn them away because these stories always

have predictable endings—tears dropping like
bombs or a room full of strangers with gaping blackholes

for mouths and teeth for eyes. No one wants to remember their

first grade birthday party or the pasta they ate before puking

in front of the whole class. I count sheep in every language

I know until I can’t think of the next number,

imagine myself some alien with no past or future, a teething

thing that doesn’t know much besides how to suckle.

It’s easy for a while because everything’s different
under the moonlight, stretched-out and strange like the skin

around old people’s elbows that you have to say isn’t

flaccid even though it is. Still, once you roll over they’re

always hiding under the pillow in the sheets between
the springs. Careful, they’ll bite fingers and toes, coax every

unwilling conversation and memory from your mind like fish

until finally, sleep drives them to the ground.

Nicole Li is a rising high school senior at Shanghai American School in Shanghai, China. Her writing has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the New York Times, and can be found in the Eunoia Review and Polyphony Lit, among others. She enjoys making lists, discovering new podcasts, and petting other people's cats. She hopes magic finds you today.