Dangle from a hook and shape-shift
between noun and adjective

Notice departure awaiting every limb:
movement will not engender loyalty

e.g. planet in its orbit
may code-switch to a different sun

Imagine a shadow more pale
more beautiful than your own cheek

Now hammer it into every joint
to make a believable body

Force a nail between your teeth
Spin it like a compass

Bend a tethered wire
to weights of unknown units

Burn red and blue
through arteries of unremembered cities

Startle like a sparrow
in a flaming tree.




I dressed as a witch and went
nowhere. You look stupid,
my father told me
what I already knew.

I touched my cardboard face.
Even without the mask I was wicked,
holes for pupils,
every feature erasable.

Half Chinese, half ghost.
I became my own species the day
a white boy called me chink

and my father didn’t disagree with him.
In the grocery aisle he lowered himself
to pick up my face and put it back on.

Twelve years is old enough to know the danger
in asking for things that don’t belong to you
: Sweets. God. Country.

Immigrants don’t need Halloween
to give themselves a fright.
Look at your own pallid face,

red-rimmed eyes.
You threw away the mask — it’s useless
trying to be a lesser monster.

But you dug it out of the trash.
For years it grimaced from the mirror,
A mouth pouring gap-toothed light.




Back then I admired your ability to murder anything

You’d dig your fingers in wrench out the gut of a fish

& toss it I learned to tuck sliced garlic in its belly

until the wound smiled gums gleaming

The trick was to make flesh forget it had once lived

August wet stink in the sink Mother

I whispered a man touched me You stared

at the boiling pot poked the bones with a chopstick

until meat flaked off clean & announced It’s ready

I chewed and swallowed felt serrated fins

caressing my ribs Mother don’t you know

ghosts are never done feeding Some days

the whole city is underwater Some days

I skate between rows of teeth My lover likes this dish

asks me where I got the recipe Nowhere I tell him

What’s another lie pretending water can

make me pristine I slide the knife onto its rack

the way you taught me blade facing in

YUXI LIN is a second year MFA candidate in the Creative Writing Program at NYU. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post and Spilled Milk. She was born in China and lives in New York City.