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Ma wouldn’t tell me anything,
but I knew. That inkblot bruise
on your belly—it bloomed like
a dying star.

So hot that summer, your fingers
left bio-ink on the monkey bars.
“It’s sweat,” you said, your eyes
cutting, daring me to say otherwise.

Good times that summer. Saturday morning cartoons on our
dying TV. How I spun you in the dryer and you came out all
pixelated. Lego tower to heaven, we stacked by Lake Ontario,
so easy for you. How you were airbrushed by fumes from Ma’s
wok, fish boiling and Sichuan peppercorns sizzling like tiny
time bombs. Claps of joy and laughter, Ma’s face glowing red
from baijiu. My arm in a cast after the skateboarding crash,
yours reprinted anew. You telling me on that wet balcony in
Scarborough: “You can do anything.”

Then that bruise. Then two.
More bio-ink smearing off you like
pigment from a butterfly’s wing.

Blur. Break. Scream. Tires
screeching. Red valve shoved
down the slit in your neck,
pumping. Recalling the product
recall. Your atoms scrambled and
refused. Mouthing freezies in hospital
rooms stinking of old glue, my tongue
lime green, yours blueprint residue.
Holding your hand, hot heart beeping,
synthskin and boy bones, HD feelings.

On the postcard I received a month later:
Preserve my body groove, which was
so you.

When I visit Ma and she pours me tea,
she sometimes apologizes, still, for having had
to print me a brother that one time.

I always remind her of that summer, that one
summer, your last summer, one of many summers,
made real by their weight in sweat.



Millie Ho’s work appears in Lightspeed Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, and others. She was a finalist for the 2019 Rhysling Awards, and lives in Montreal. Find her at www.millieho.net and on Twitter @Millie_Ho.
Current Issue
17 Jan 2022

The land burns so hot and high tonight that Let can see its orange glow even from the heart of The City of Birds. It burns so thick she can taste the whole year’s growth of leaves and branches on her lips. It burns so fast she can almost hear the deer and cottontails scream as flames outrun them and devour them whole.
I writhe in bed with fever, chills, chatters and shivers. The near becomes far as the far comes close.
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