I touch myself like a wound
& my skin spits up its color

like blood. It’s beautiful
to feel darkness unattended

in the body. To love the backs
of our hands, to forget

what will end us. I bruise
the underside of my tongue

on light, I bleed at the sight
of any animal smaller than

a fist. Our mothers tell us
to cultivate our teeth

in lieu of altars. Our mothers
measure the months in loss:

a river mouth sucked dry,
a name spilled like wine

or blood. Doorknobs melted
down into blades.

These are all myths we
groped into want: a bloodline

like a landline, a birth as instant
as light, as sweetness.

But instead we got new names,
memories slipping out of us

like stillborns. Instead we got
new skirts, tore them away

as if we knew how to strip
a body from its heat, a fire

from its smoke. Nothing
left but the weather, the

sounds of a house consuming
itself, its window cracked open

like jaws. We pretend consumption
can be this bodiless. We pretend

the space between sacrifice
and surrender is the space

between our two hands.


Kristin Chang is a QWOC from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Perigee (Apogee Journal), SOFTBLOW, the Asian American Writers Workshop, Cosmonauts Avenue, HIV Here & Now, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for two Best of the Net Awards and is currently on staff of Winter Tangerine Review. She is located at

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.