As if My Flesh was Summer Soil

I make the bed as my mother taught me,

smoothing sheets corner to corner, curve to curve,

crisp and white, smelling of bleach

and the flowery sachets

she stuffs into linen closets and cedar chests,

as if she could trick those

cramped and lightless spaces to bloom.

I fluff the pillows, three sharp blows,

the feathers expanding inside

as if they might take wing and escape

if only I hit them hard enough.


In my belly, my sparrow stirs,


a familiar flutter beneath my heart.

I smooth my hand over my navel

as my mother taught me,

to hide the jabs of beak and bone,

the stirring of clawed feet,

kicking for purchase as if my flesh

was summer soil, ripe and fertile.

I fold my hand over my belly

as my mother once did

when I too was a tangle of

wet feathers and ancient urges,

as if I, too, could trick nature

into believing there is

life beating its way

out of me.


(Editors’ Note: “As if My Flesh was Summer Soil is read by Erika Ensign on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast, Episode 36B.)


Lora Gray

Lora Gray is a non-binary speculative fiction writer and poet from Northeast Ohio. Their poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award, and has previously appeared, or is forthcoming, in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Kaleidotrope among other places. When they aren’t writing, Lora works as an artist, dance instructor and wrangler of a very smart cat named Cecil. You can find Lora online at

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