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The Machine Family

(First published in Strange Horizons)

Mannequin legs lined up along the walls

Flowers the shape of organs

When the men came, their boots stained the children’s playmat

We remembered to offer them tea 

and to unzip our bodies from our shame

The feast begins before the guests arrive

the table ripe with fruits and metal parts

Their eyes trace the curves of our gears

like birds eyeing the shoreline and we

recite the songs our makers wrote

like the name of a mother that exists

only in user manuals

We wait for their hands

to cleave open the sheets of steel, pull them back

to show the guests that memory of the sea 

that latest add-on that renders happiness

into a series of unbreakable binary.

Angela Liu is a Chinese-American writer from NYC. She researched mixed reality at Keio University’s Graduate School of Media Design in Japan and now works in IT consulting and Japanese-to-English translation. Her works are published or forthcoming in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, The Dark, Lightspeed Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Dark Matter Magazine, Cast of Wonders, khōréō, among others. Her debut short story collection, Beautiful Ways We Break Each Other Open, will be released in September 2024 with Dark Matter INK. Check out more of her work at or find her on Twitter and Instagram @liu_angela.

Radon Journal Issue 6 cover art
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