“In Case You Need Light” © Jordana Mayim



In the whale’s vagina, girls forgo the
use of underwire support for their young tits.
They settle instead for tiny, thin white drapes
designed to be worn in contrast with their golden,
perfectly tanned skin and the smell of dried salt
mixed with eucalyptus that seems to
effortlessly waft from their long necks.
The pale skin on my chest charred immediately upon arrival,
Years as an expat have left me vulnerable
to the harsh UV rays shining down on these perfect people.
Self-conscious of my pinched red flesh, burning,
No way could you be as pretty as the girls in San Diego,
dancing barefoot in the water, unafraid of sharks
or the stingrays that frighten me.
I’ll pack my bras and head back east for my burnt flesh,
Covered by an oversized T-shirt, to recover-
the sun doesn’t hurt me there, I’m always inside.


Alyssa Vallese was born in Cape May, New Jersey but grew up in San Diego, California. She is an electromechanical engineer and realized her love of prose while taking an undergraduate elective course on poetry. Her work is heavily influenced by her Californian upbringing and her experience as a woman in engineering. She currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Jordana Chana Mayim is a writer, illustrator, and backpacker, among many other things. She’s published two books, with two more on the way. In them, she shares all the light that travel and overcoming depression taught her how to see. At the tender age of six, she received her first clinical diagnosis of “abnormal” from a child psychologist. Since then, she’s learned how to reclaim her voice and define herself. Difference isn’t a disease. It’s the origin of existence.