Teen Sequins 2021: Stella Lei, Age 17
Self-Portrait as Metal, Decaying
These days, I open all my poems against a blade.
I turn seventeen with a Swiss Army Knife
in hand, slice cake so thin the pieces disappear,
expended into steel. This is how I enter
the world: knees scabbed, fists before my face.
See, at knifepoint, the wound opens before
the cut. Flinches in anticipation of hurt,
like a bird spreading its feathers, bracing
itself for the fall. How I shield my face
with hands stretched into wings.
In biology, I learn my body as fight-
or-flight. Feedback loop. Reaction cascade.
Everything echoes into something else, the way
punches rebound into my own fist. The way
a mother rebounds into child into
child into child. At the door, my mother tucks
car keys between my knuckles, slips razor blades
up my sleeves, and isn’t this another bedtime
story: warnings passed hand to hand?
Breaths cradled in my fists, gasping against
the ache of night? In biology, I learn inheritance
as blood reborn into another body, so I slit birds
open and baptize my hands in their flight. Break
their wings and turn my palms to the sky.
These days, I open. xxxxxxxxxxxxx
I turn xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Knife,
xxxxxxx, so thin the xxxxxxxxxx steel xxxxx
xxxxx opens xxxxxxxxxx in anticipation of hurt.
In biology, I learn my body as fight, xxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx the way punches
rebound xxxxxxx into child into child into
child. At the door, my mother xxxxxxxxxx slips
razor blades xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx hand to hand,
xxxxxxxxxxxxx, so I slit xxxxx open. xxxxxxxxxxx
Break xxxxxxxxxxxxx my palms. xxxxxxxxxx
These days, I open, xxxx
xx I xx open, xxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxx I xxxx, open. xxxx
Stella Lei is a teen writer from Pennsylvania whose work appears in Four Way Review, Okay Donkey Magazine,
X-R-A-Y, and elsewhere. Her writing has been selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 longlist
and nominated for Best of the Net 2021. She is an Editor in Chief for The Augment Review,
she has two cats, and she tweets @stellalei04.
You can find more of her work at stellaleiwrites.weebly.com.
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