Birds and the Bees by Anastasia Alexandrin; for more information, visit

Birds and the Bees by Anastasia Alexandrin; for more information, visit


by Michelle Lin

It could be the bead between my fingers
as I pinch an earlobe. Not the jewel,
but its hollow, the space that takes
space. Like what is thrown to me
on this bus by this man—no words
but his steady gaze. My hand thumbs my ear
furiously and I know it won’t stop
even with bleeding. I’ll keep picking.
And when the skin breaks, it’ll surprise me
like the first piercing—his hand at my cheek,
the bright of blood swinging in swift
as slingshot. And somewhere, a bird
is falling, is struck out softly. How quickly
I am pointed to as magic, then buried—
by the boy in the eighth grade who picked me
then pricked me with a safety pin.
By the boy in the park who collapsed me
with a finger. Towel pressed
to my shoulder, mirror thrown
to my face—I see pain is a wildflower.
Look at me on this bus. All the pretty
girls lining up with teddy bears
tight in their arms. We are birds
feathered to the ground, beauty
after the fact, after the flight of stone.
Just look at this jewel after puncture,
it’s a miracle how the flesh gives
and gives away. I come with only blood
on my sleeve. What should we call such
witchery? What should we call such weight?


About Michelle Lin

Michelle Lin is the author of A House Made of Water (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Adrienne, Quaint Magazine, The Journal, Aster(ix), Phoebe, North American Review, TYPO, Apogee, and more. She has served as an editor for the journals Mosaic, Hot Metal Bridge, and B. E. Quarterly, and currently serves as Poetry Reader for Twelfth House Journal. She has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, LEAPS summer program, and Young Writer’s Institute. She works for Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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