Diagram of My Epidermis

Lynn Gao Cox
| poetry



I lay in the dark of my childhood bedroom, hungry
for a woman—for linked arms, grins with all our teeth,
and howling at a movie projector moon.



Here the moonlight spits through the slats
in the shutters and I am digested whole instead—
plucked into monomers and peptides. Sundew sermon.
Gaping swarm of atoms. Negative space woman.



By this point I’ve learned my body down to
the plaque between my cells: algal blooms, dead
sturgeon, annelids churning earth. What a shame
about her daughter, a godless girl-lover.



A faceless ghost



Call me what you want: (1) peat swamp girl
(2) pulpwood creature (3) salamander eater
(4) detritus demon (5) the type of person
a decent girl should never take a compliment from.



The fact is I’m tired of lying, of counting
the layers in my skin like I am being stolen.







I want to know what it’s like to be pared
and savored raw. Anger and all.
Wine flesh. Plum mouth. Wolf woman.
Sacred in a way that is very much not.



I want to sprout unfiltered mouths from
my face; slick, shameless & indubitably
lovely—they’d call me debutante, wife of
man, family girl, head of tongues.



In my dreams I walk around New York
labeling things: radius, hummingbird,
tomato, pearl onion, Central Park, eyeball moon,
cracked rib. Can I ever speak my name?

Lynn Gao Cox is from North Carolina and is currently a master’s student studying applications of artificial intelligence to medicine. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, among others.

Tin Man Goes to a Rave
Rabbit in a Snowstorm