Hal Y. Zhang

The knife goes through flesh
like layer cake. Skin sinew bone
sim sala bim. Honey and horse
tendons to bind blood to sludge.

I did not know it would hurt
this much to turn into an angel.
Check back in four to eight days.
My back will either grow wings or sepsis —
there is no purgatory.

Did I barter the golden apple
for love
or hubris?

Too late for doubts. Clavicles
groan under the weight of new bone:
two rippling rows of baby teeth rasp
with every step, eager to consume
from within. I wake from prostrate
prayer into halo of down, bilayer of
arsenic feathers upon the palate,
antiquated pens with crimson cartridge.
Thousands of spines rattle in war cry
with a shiver. Pluck an errant
plume from my chest
to hear it sing.

They are only decorative. The mirror lies
with its silver tongue. She looks back at me,
half molting nestling,
half fool.

Above her spirals the sun, all molten electrum,
fire and euphoria —

Side effects may include: complexation,
delirium, sublimation.

Let it come. I fear
only darkness. Give me the world to herald.

Hal Y. Zhang works with strong light and tries not to burn herself too often. Read more of her writing at