What We Gain in Translation by Hal Y. Zhang

when I walked out of the plane I did
not know what I left in the bins:

skin cells   gut bacteria   tongue tips
and consonants for broken birds to nurse.

there is no return because the world
changes color while you linger

elsewhere, molts light   remembered
noise   lick of flames, sweet as

fermented beans tasting different
from the same jar. everything is

different. half of me too. melted and
recast in a background role, brittle

and hollow, disappointment of chocolate
rabbits   reheated cheese dough. I

don’t know why the eggs don’t steam
well here, mother said. the proteins

unspool wrongly when they look in
the mirror world. I dream. the gargantuan

moon shatters into curds soundless,
yellow unlike my vague skin   stuck in

my teeth and folds   golden money
boats to float to the hereafter.

Contributor Notes

Hal Y. Zhang is a writer of code and tales on the east coast of the United States. Her words are at halyzhang.com.