Lucy Zhang

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Lucy Zhang

Ban Lan Gen

Small hermaphrodite flowers, a fourfold double perianth, sprouting yellow to off-white petals,
hiding nectar glands curved like antlers, bearing indehiscent fruit—strip their glaucous leaves,
rip them out of the soil, pulverize until powder, dry into granules. I dissolve isatis root,
dandelion, and viola in hot water; it turns dark, the bottom of the mug an open end. I drink, never
really knowing if this’ll make me breathe easier the next time I step outside, feel the sunlight and
nitrogen crush my lungs, alveoli popping like bubble wrap. Is my blood cooled now? Heat
drained from limb cartilage? The fire doused with roots and rhizomes? We’re standing outside,
gasping for oxygen—some kind of pulmonary hypertension, stealing air the moment we peel our
faces off for the sun. Now, your hand on my forehead, does it feel like ice against ice?

Lucy Zhang reads “Ban Lan Gen”

Lucy Zhang writes, codes, and watches anime. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Hobart, Jellyfish Review, New Delta Review, Passages North, and elsewhere. She is an editor for Heavy Feather Review and assistant fiction editor for Pithead Chapel. Find her at or on Twitter @Dango_Ramen.