apparent death

Honorable Mention: 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


  1. you wish you had a body


like most birds: strong, supple, sharp.

But you left your claws behind

when you crawled out of the forest



  1. so they thought you wanted to be soft,

which isn’t wrong, but—


  1. In primary three science you learned

that all living things need air, food, and water.


You need a fourth: a sheet of skin that doesn’t burn

when you touch it. You need something a fruit knife

couldn’t cut through.


  1. Christ, if you could fly


  1. in this economy. You’d dart right out of this city

like a bullet. Rip all the fat and muscle

from your bones. Go back

to the beginning and drag the right body

out of the forest—


  1. not red or yellow or even the purple

of grapes, of skin bruising under sunlight


but a fourth color. The color

of trees singing.

Liya Chang was born in Texas, grew up in Singapore, and returned to the United States for college. They study English, Dance, and Asian Studies at Swarthmore College. Poetry is one of their greatest joys and vices, through which they explore the wonders of being the third in everything: third culture kid, third gender, and third bird on the wire.