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The Machine Family

by Angela Liu

(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.

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