Michelle Lin

My mother wanted me to swallow spoons
whole for a wind chime in my chest. God,
I hated them. Those immovable mountains,
electrified. Their terrible shine.
Hard bit. Metal tongue.


Each home I unfolded myself, a family left
some behind. Coarse behind drawers, but music
in a child’s hands. They measure, they hold, they move
some things. They are the one utensil we trust
not to be violent. Can drum without becoming
a telephone wire of tines. Heartless tin men,
there is only one way to hold them. Their cold, still
cheeks, touching me. They are everywhere, everywhere,
throwing my many selves back at me
in turned, smiling faces. Groaning against
cavities. My mother’s set melted from dowry.


In a clean house, a woman cries to the audience
I love to clean.
In another play, a mother cracks a girl cracking
eggs all wrong. Shell in the bowl like an eye.
Does it again and again and again. Until she gets it right.


Moon singing bells. Whole head of teeth,
magnetized. I write to you because already


it is too late for you
to look away. Look,
I am wearing a dress
of shark teeth and wire.


And what if there is
no mother? Just me, in the kitchen, wanting
to crack an egg right?


Breathe your coffee, escape ten miles. You are
late. You are chased. You are
being eaten alive. The sour
in your gums. Is this
working? I am
trying here.


I love to clean.


On the counter, they fill with so much morning
it hurts to touch.


Michelle Lin earned her BA in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside, where she was a former Gluck Fellow and editor of the journal Mosaic. She has taught poetry in the LEAPS summer program and Young Writer’s Institute. She is currently in the MFA program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches composition. Michelle is a team member of the zine B. E. Quarterly and poetry co-editor of the journal Hot Metal Bridge. Her latest work can be found in North American Review and ZYZZYVA.

 You’ll find biographies for all contributors to Phoebe 43.2 here. 

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