Phosphene

A face is composed of fluffy pink bits not dissimilar to the petals of a flower. The background is tiled with muted multicolor squares based around different shades of red and yellow.

Womb. Dark. Tight like a box. Pressing. Kicking. Bruising. Blistering. Water. Brackish. Light. Light-stripes.

Each moment leaves fingerprints on our bodies.

Within the 206 bones, one of mine is crooked from when I fell against the concrete on the playground, left it untreated, and let it heal back again. Now when I run my fingers along my chest, I can feel the unnatural curve in the ribs, charted in a direction it should not have gone.

Within the 900 ligaments, one of them on my right index finger is looser. Bends farther back than any other joint, folds against the palm and the knuckles.

Within the heart: something must be misplaced. A pulse.  I feel yours, press my fingers against the purple of your skin.  Pulse. Water so deep and you never learned how to float. Floating. Angel. Yours only. Only dust.

Within the eyes, in the absence of light, we create our own. There’s dust and angels and something so beautifully uncertain about it all that we just laugh and let it all happen.

—the Editors, Summer 2019

Note: For Vertigo issues, art is typically created to complement a writer’s work. For Phosphene, though, the reverse was true: writing was made for the artists’ pieces. To reflect this change, all the art in this issue is shown before the writing.


Table of Contents

Poetry

Coby Chuang: As Old Days Dwindle
Cynthia Chang: hanahaki
Flora Huang: Spiraling Blossoms
Lauren Ho: The Opium Accord

Prose

Pranav Mishra: A Summer to Rest
Suphala Nibhanupudi: candy wrapper butterflies
Sherry Huang: Emma’s Shadow
Yiu-On Li: Hedgerow
Cynthia Li: Helios
Melissa Chen: Pull a String
Alisa Lu: Slices
Lillian Fu: Spring
Sophie Guan: The Things With Faces He Knew
Renee Ge: Where You Came From