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    an elaborate deception

    by Minjung (Mina) Yu

     

    shapeshifting is a delicate art, like sculpture
    just like if the artist’s hand slips while coursing over the marble
    a mistake is irrevocable. i don’t do it often but sometimes
    i need to come up for air, so i find myself once again standing in front
    of the mirror, still dressed in my school clothes, my hair done up,
    a ten-cent smile accessorizing my face. first i undo my hair and remove
    my clothes and then the hard part starts because then i must pierce
    my scalp with the ends of my fingers and begin to peel it away
    round-and-round like like a tangerine peel, careful not to tear it
    and leave evidence of my fallacy, down my forehead to my eyes and
    nose and mouth down to my neck past my pulse continuing past my
    shoulders and torso until at last i’m removing the last delicate fragment
    of skin from my toes and all that remains are the bare bones of my
    insecurities, fears, my unheard thoughts crowding in their cage, my ribs,
    desperate to glimpse a snatch of the artificial light that highlights
    the dark ridges of my jealousy and all the cracks and dents from
    all the blows that hit too close to home. i never look long—
    too long and i feel the way i imagine beached whales might—
    but pick up my skin and slip it back on like an old sweater (the putting-on
    is always easier than the taking-off), put my clothes back on for
    good measure, make sure every hollow space and wretched bone is
    safely hidden behind a layer of comfortable deception. i clean the blood
    below my fingernails before diving back down
    into the ocean.


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