Grace H. Zhou

The Canyon Is Not a Metaphor



who are we

of rim rock

that nature carves

yes there are dams

like dull scabs


we will beg this landscape

we will unearth the geology

like strata

and coils of ossified mollusk

we will learn

to be unbroken

pinned to this lip

we ponder the ways

through her own wounds

roads cities

for though our people tilled

some humid river basin far away

name us anew

our comings and our goings

of sandstone and shale

lifted through time

one does not need

to be whole


Grace H. Zhou is a poet and cultural anthropologist. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Frontier Poetry, Ninth Letter, Cosmonauts Avenue, Longleaf Review, AAWW’s The Margins, Kweli, The Hellebore, and elsewhere. She holds a PhD from Stanford University and is a President’s Postdoctoral Scholar at the Ohio State University. She is an alumna of Tin House Workshops and Kearny Street Workshop’s Interdisciplinary Writers Lab, and a reader at Tinderbox Poetry.