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The day of your surgery, you disappeared.
I called the doctor, but it rang and rang.
The machine announced a pyramid scheme for
new life and new identities, an herbal supplement in exchange
for memories. So I searched the woods where we shot cans
with guns as kids, thinking we were practicing for
becoming superheroes, rather than practicing secret identities
and desires. The river was empty. The trees
purged of leaves. Only the clubhouse remained—
where your body was folded back into
an ouroboros of your former gendered life.

An X-ray image reveals two broken arms,
fractured vertebrae, near septic shock,
and heavy metal poisonings from your youthful tattoos.
New doctors follow in a procession of diagnoses,
which sound more like hexes and curses than cures.
All of this is too heavy in my mouth. My throat feels
coated with diamonds and quartz cut in queer shapes,
as if my insides have become a geode, and I have been
cracked open in the process of scientific discovery.
I shine under fluorescent lights. Was I always beautiful inside?
Or has too much sonic pressure
from gender made me so?

When we were young, I tried to make
my skin beautiful through needles and ink while
you tried to pull your sex out
through your root chakra to exchange one myth
for another. All it did was impress con-men doctors
invested in overnight success stories
and the pills and pulp memoirs that made it so.
All of this becoming between us has become
dizzying, and more doctors are slipping me
pills for sea-sickness and vertigo, as if
all other promises of health were not
laid bare next to scalpels on metal tables
and conjured without anesthesia or antibiotics.
I am starting to doubt storytelling from surgeons.

So I send the case studies away. Wellness and disease
will not enter here. I hold your cold hand
and wish that time's arrow could pierce us backwards,
give you back the desperation that made you run
to the therapist-magician who claimed she could make
your dysphoria disappear with a single white tablecloth
against a white letterhead and embossed MD stamps.
Instead, I chant the name you picked out for your secret-self,
the one that always landed a bull's eye, even blindfolded
and spun around. Like Lazarus, you breathe with a touch
from someone who knows what it's like to hold back
holiness and sin. You rise from the near-dead hospital bed—
and demand a body that is home.

A day later, the overnight magic's almost gone.
Your third eye is open and we follow the symbols;
I understand even more that
we both phosphoresce, broken
yet beautiful under light.
We are both fire archers, aiming
a red thread in another trajectory.
We are both monsters, neglected and ignored
as well as diseased and destroyed.
But we can stitch what we've left off
and find our way out of Frankenstein’s room.
We can convalesce with new names,
and molt into better skins.
Without doctors or witches, con-men, or categories
that claim to be home,
we glow.



Eve Morton is a writer living in Ontario, Canada. She teaches university and college classes on media studies, academic writing, and genre literature, among other topics. She likes forensic science through the simplified lens of TV, and philosophy through the cinematic lens of Richard Linklater. Find more information on authormorton.wordpress.com.
Current Issue
16 May 2022

we are whispered into this new land, this old land, whispered anew
i tuck myselves under coffin nails. and then i am the sun like a nairobi fly, burning spine and skin.
The last deer in heaven flees, and Sestu pursues.
Issue 9 May 2022
Podcast: 9 May Poetry 
Issue 2 May 2022
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Strange Horizons
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Strange Horizons
28 Feb 2022
We would like stories that are joyous, horrific, hopeful, despondent, powerful and subtle. Write something that will take our breath away, make us yell and cry. Write unapologetically in your local patois and basilects in space; make references to local events and memes to your heart’s content. Write something that makes you laugh and cry. Indulge in all the hallmarks of your heritage that you find yourself yearning for in speculative literature, but know that we will not judge you based on your authenticity as a Southeast Asian. 
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