The Designs of Designer Baby


She came from the cold laser bath,
a polished thing trimmed by tiny scissors.
Held by sterile gloves, she grew up thinking
herself a rare Picasso, her eyes dark flowers,
her mind a meteor shower.

In elementary school, she saw the future,
built marvels using gauze, bullets, and Krazy glue,
items made for wartime but became common use.

When her friend was diagnosed, she strung chemicals into cures—
one hundred, two hundred, half a thousand more,
her intent on fire, fingers blurring, blazing.
Her friend died anyway,
purple-spotted with milky eyes,
and her horizons shattered that same day.


She traveled far and away,
working in labs,
makeshift clinics on
the shores of dying beaches,
weaving her knowledge of
sickness, rot, and disease
into usable cloth.

Bone to bone, she and her team slept
under a new roof every night,
stitching shelters,
planting lead castles,
digging holes to keep out the
black snow and sooty smoke.

Everyone still died when the bombs fell,
charred, with bent backs,
covered in cracks.


She did not—
could not—
save anyone.


After the earth opened up and
the waves caved in, she came to
the island in the sea.

She took the name Hajime and
lived with the fishing families.

She ate bitter melon and gulped sake,
told stories dusted from the fossils of
ancient soldiers.

Her eyes still dark, her mind still bright,
she strung fireflies into crowns for the
fisherwomen’s green children.

When the children’s children had children,
she shaped leftover gunpowder and ash into
haniwa for those that inevitably die
before her.


Sometimes she sees the past instead of the future.

Sometimes she sees her parents—
the life they designed for her,
the abilities they carved into her.

Sometimes she sees a genkan going up in smoke,
people choked blind by fumes, cracking the way
ordinary humans do.

After everyone has left,
she sits on cold earth and
thinks about all that
she has tried to forget.

When did it happen?

And why?

The cracks on her skin,
which she put there herself
in tribute
cannot be filled in so easily.


She still sees the future,
seeing everything except for
her own death.

You can find her drawing equations in craters,
tracing the motion of light, counting the rips
and seams in spacetime.

There’s a hairline fracture in her glass mind,
but she won’t stop until she splits time from gravity,
until the many-worlds become The One,
until she can string chemicals into cures
once more.

Three dimensions, four dimensions, five dimensions or more—
she will wear her crown of dandelions and claw through forever.

Fill in the cracks and reverse time—
this is the life she has designed, finally,
for herself.


Millie Ho

Millie Ho’s short stories and poems appear in The Puritan, Lightspeed Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Augur Magazine, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the Ignyte and Rhysling Awards. Find her at

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