It is a Tuesday morning when she decides she will unpeel the sheen of fish scales from her throat. (This is the first step to perfection.) She skews the metallurgy of her décolletage, reveals gleaming skin. The mark where the knife creased her neck pinks under the bathroom light. (The memory of the incision stings more than the fading scar. She feels it in striations down her throat.) She forgets the taste of anything physical. This is a feeling she mourns on her tongue. She holds a frosted bottle of spirits to her lips, the liquid runs down her throat. (She says this is to disinfect the surgical wounds. This is a lie, and the second step to muddied perfection.) Since the surgery, she consumes spirits only. Her house is filled with mirrors; she stands in front of a reflective wall, skimming her tender skin, opening her mouth, checking her throat. A pale white stone studs her uvula. Transient light shines against the opal. (Her house is startling bright in the day, but when the sun sets, each wall is a tunnel of dark.) At night she suckles another bottle. When she swallows her throat clinks inside her head, so loud, she drops the bottle, covers her ears, from the opal, from the shattered bottle. This is the last time she swallows. (This is the final step to perfection.)
issue two / celestial
i filter tadpoles / between my fingers, cold bodies / but alive / bodies / pressed together. / i remember the / mist of their birth. this was the first time / this is the last time / i see you, / coddled against your / mother's breast and / swaddled in the fog / of dawn. / these tadpoles came to / me in spring, when the sun / set, when dark bloomed against your / childhood home. / bombs breaking the peace / of the pond. i taste the sirens / silence / from here. / these swimming babes sprout / legs from their bodies like stemming / flowers. / your mother weeps for your body / in the frost of dawn, / your petals white with icing. / they sweep / your ashes / from the / frontline. / i tower over the pond / in prayer, asking the sun / to dust / your sleeping eyelashes / with dew.
Lauren Zhu (she/her) is a writer from New York. Her writing appears in celestite poetry, Eunoia Review, ONE ART, among others.