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White Elephant

The hole in my mouth goes deeper than the missing tooth. It burns and then is numb, like rubbing alcohol on a wound, and it radiates down my jaw and into my throat and stretches fingers through my lungs, and it’s obvious that a part of me is missing, has been pulled out with pliers and […]


The Wedding Gig

“It’s hot,” the saxophone player says with a shrug. “Right?” The bass player nods. He showed up in a Metallica t-shirt. The saxophone player wears short sleeves under a jacket with the lining cut out. He told me so. I’m wearing what we always wore to wedding gigs: a tuxedo jacket with velvet lapels over […]


Bugs Eat Light

Rustles and scratches fill our pitch-black sitting room. Bugs. Digging through cracks in the walls, searching for moonshine to gorge on. I sink back against the sofa cushion, grateful for the wooden boards on the window, and wrap my fingers around Lee’s pocket torch. My head aches. The blisters on my socked feet sting and […]


Pieces of My Body

I gave my left arm to Elizabeth. You’ve never met her, but she was my dearest childhood friend. After my disembodiment party, she went home to London and put it on her end table, hand side down, with a lampshade made of green velvet and children’s nightmares. The nightmares gnawed at the nerve endings on […]


Your Past Life Interferes With My Very Important Studies

Mike Your past life drank all the milk again. Please get more on the way back from lectures today. Also, takeaway tonight? Love Kay P.S. Is it true Janey’s PL was Helen of Troy? Lucky bitch! * * * Mike Just a quick note to say I added some observations to the sheet for yesterday. […]


Portrait of My Wife as a Boat

She comes home later and later even though the nights are starting earlier than they were. I feel cross and wronged, and pretend not to see her as she hesitates briefly on the doorstep. I bow my head to my stitching. A new quilt this one–with gold, russet, and red, colors for the Fall that […]


What Merfolk Must Know

I SAW MY FIRST DEATHSHIP when I was only ten migrations old. Mamma and I had swum up to the ocean’s surface to play with a pod of dolphins. We were leaping and spinning and dancing in the waves when she caught sight of white sails on the horizon. The dolphins abandoned us, racing off […]


The Cormorant in the Glass-Bottomed Cage

The river nudged my log raft against its mooring post with a steady thud on the night I first saw Old Qiu’s woman. Sitting on her knees at the end of his boat, she offered his cormorants a few of the small fish they’d caught that day. Her young, round face echoed the full moon, […]


The Kiss

HARLAN LEANS OVER TO PLANT A KISS ON MY CHEEK. His fingers wriggle beneath mine so that our palms rest together, our fingers interlocking. It would be so easy to kiss him. Too easy. I lean back in my seat and pretend to be focused on the movie, letting the bright light of the fictional […]


Small Wishes

I MISSED THE FIRST APPEARANCE of the wish-dragons, so I had to hear about them second-hand from my friend Boomer. He’d been feeling pretty mellow and not fit to drive, so he’d wandered down to the docks and started singing. The moon hung low and full. Boomer said the sky filled up with streaks of […]


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