After the Moon Princess Leaves

We walk around our house for days with an emptiness
that sings in our bones. Otousan gathers the pale feathers
she discarded and we weep over them at dinner,
rice too wet in our dry mouths. I spread my hands
over her silk robe and remember the same strange ache
I felt, hefting her naked baby body over my shoulder.
We nail her note to our door so that her script
can comfort us. I taught her that, Otousan says,
fingers skimming the characters for goodbye.
We see the emperor’s smoke rising from the mountain:
burnt words, offerings of ash to the moon. We quiver,
but he’s already alone; it’s punishment enough. Now
always the stars remind me of the tears tracing down
our alien daughter’s face. Why did we think
our love could keep her? I pull the weeds
in our garden, I pull the grass. I make rice.
Otousan kisses my cheek and burns her note,
her feathers; burns her robe, to forget we are
forgotten. He takes his blade and walks
through the forest, whistling, listening
for a child’s cry. Slicing bamboo, watching
their fragile bodies bend and break, scattering light.

(Editors’ Note: “After the Moon Princess Leaves” is read by Amal El–Mohtar in the Uncanny Magazine Podcast, Episode 3.)


Isabel Yap

Isabel Yap writes fiction and poetry, works in the tech industry, and drinks tea. Born and raised in Manila, she has also lived in California and London, and studied abroad in Tokyo. In 2013 she attended the Clarion Writers Workshop. She is currently completing her MBA at Harvard Business School. Her work has appeared in venues including, Nightmare Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and her short story series about magical girls was released by Booksmugglers Publishing in 2016. She is @visyap on Twitter and her website is

2 Responses to “After the Moon Princess Leaves”

  1. 2015 Year in Review, Quiz Edition | isalikeswords

    […] After the Moon Princess Leaves in Uncanny Magazine (Issue 2/Jan-Feb) I taught her that, Otousan says, fingers skimming the characters for goodbye. […]

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