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When I’m Thirty I Receive a Box Full of Your Steel Bones

(First published in Asimov’s Science Fiction)

I remember being young, learning things by

touch. Our cat—what was her name again?—

is the softest, warmest thing;

your hand holding mine, sleek

and cool. When I pet the cat, I say friend,

friend, and my parents smile champagne grins

and snap crooked photos.

When I lie in your arms, soothed by your

jangling lullabies, I say friend, I say love.

My parents look up from their tablets, smiles 

turned upside down. Not friend, they say. 

Help. Not love. Code.

* * *

At night you tuck me in, kiss my forehead with

rubber lips. Sleep, love, you say.

Then you walk yourself to the broom closet,

powering yourself down.

Minutes or hours later, I sneak out of bed, 

and the cat follows, the two of us 

padding downstairs, silent paws and 

footie pajamas. I open the closet door 

on tippy-toes and gaze up at you, see

myself reflected in your shiny steel body.

Wake up, friend.

Avra Margariti is a queer author, Greek sea monster, and Rhysling-nominated poet with a fondness for the dark and the darling. Avra’s work haunts publications such as Vastarien, Asimov’s, Liminality, Arsenika, The Future Fire, Space and Time, Eye to the Telescope, and Glittership. The Saint of Witches, Avra’s debut collection of horror poetry, is available from Weasel Press. You can find Avra on Twitter: @avramargariti.

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