magic eye picture
you blurred your vision and waited for the layers to show: rollerskates hidden in a daisy field, a heart risen from static. in the sky, translucent worms fed on dayblue — eye floaters or rolled-up gods. i can see you, they said. i can see you, you said. your pupils were two flung-open doors, the darkness behind your lids a window. if you rubbed your eye right, you'd spot something like the afterimage of your eye. it always looked off into the distance, though. you could see it, but never what it saw.
i grew a tiny self out of my floating rib. a thin pink cord joined our bodies and she levitated by the crook of my elbow. i fed her chocolate chips and eyedroppers full of whiskey, used only the finest foulest language around her. weekends, we went to the shooting range or the axe-throwing room — tiny pistol, tiny axe, target the size of my thumbnail. we howled at the moon. we chalked weird sigils in the christian suburbs. it could have gone on like that forever, until the day i stepped off the bus and felt the door close too soon, snapping the cord. the bus roared off with her inside and me clutching my bleeding rib. i haven't seen her since. but every once in a while, i'll hear stories: the impossibly small bullet wounds, the bed in a mousehole. just coincidences, probably. but then again, i know she'll outlive me. my littlest knife. a flower flashing a blade from within.
in the backyard, i dig a hole with a snatch of twig. the deeper i go, the more my arm disappears, like the soil is my sleeve. earth, my satin opera glove, how beautifully you slide on. when i'm shoulder-deep, my arm starts to lengthen, growing thousands of miles long as i dig to the other side of the world. it takes maybe sixteen years, with a snack break. i look at the sun through my finished hole, and it drinks me through the earth like a straw, swallows me into the future.
thousands of years from now, i stand on a platform in space. the sun is a few feet behind me. it feels pleasantly warm and doesn't hurt to look at, giving instead a muted white light like the head of a baby. creatures hover in front of me, resembling hybrids of jellyfish and ballgowns. they telepathically beam a question into my head. well?
i say, i turned my suffering into beauty.
Sheila Dong is the author of "Moon Crumbs" (Bottlecap Press, 2019) and has had work published in Stirring, Rogue Agent, Pretty Owl Poetry and other places. Sheila holds an MFA from Oregon State University and lives in Tucson, AZ. In their spare time, Sheila streams too much television and collects instances of oddly specific or otherwise humorous closed captions.