Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 3



Alison Zheng


More Customer Satisfaction/Less Feeling

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could you please? i just advise.
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Those unheard, are sweeter

Although we still had countless miles left to go,
God threw us a bone and generously gave us
glimpses of new Eden's glacial valley resting in the distance.

We swerved in circles with the windows rolled down,
excited for the winds to blow their freshness into us and for
our cares to drop away like leaves of Autumn.

As we moved closer, the cliffs began to obscure
our vision. Bad and Boujee played ceremoniously as
we took in this absolute manifestation of the divine:

The mountains are calling and I must go.

The next morning, we began our pilgrimage before dawn
and as the sun grew higher so did our connection to
this majestic earth.

When we arrived at Half Dome's feet, you attached
your carabiner to the cables and a pale woman chided us:
Your weight will pull the cables down, you idiots.

In silence, we watched untethered white bodies glide up and
down the granite's sheer face. Their eyes starring ahead
challenging the monolith's relentless gaze.

Moving with the knowledge that it was their destiny to climb and
receive the mountain's good tidings, they easily ascended.
With my feet stuck to the ground, I watched.

I gripped the cold steel chains.
I drenched my gloves with sweat.

You sneered at their audacity and clipped me in.
You went first, always turning around to make sure I was safe.

As we slowly moved 400 feet up, I thought about those that climbed before us:

When my dad was caught trying to swim
his way to Hong Kong, yours was in Detroit
getting laid off.

My mom sewed garments for fast fashion
behemoths. Yours spent her earliest summers
gathering those raw materials.

The world wants me to be a machine and
you a spectacle. My body yearns to be
more than my labor

while yours fights to stay alive.

When we made it to the top, we stayed for an hour.
As a reward, we shared the most delicious water
filtered from the Merced River, and you told me:

Only white people want to die in dumb ways.

Although we still have countless miles left to go,
God threw me a bone and gave me your light.



Alison Zheng: "I graduated from University of California-Davis w/ an English degree a million years ago. I think writing is tight."




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