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my ships are ready – Ellen Huang

boy in black apron like a schoolgirl

dress, me in my black and green

like an aromantic flag (minus the white)

or a haunted mansion host, except I smile.

we had just spontaneously gotten pots and pans

and everything for making dumplings.


in this moment, time melts away 

as the hours flow into the netherworld.

we are simply two night owls,

one teaching the other to slice the pound of pork

chop the scallions, cut the onions,

crack the egg, mince the garlic,

stir (squish) and stir (squish) and stir

we let the mix cool and just an episode or two later

we are dipping fingers into a tiny dish of cold water

tracing the outlines of the disc of dumpling skin

scooping pork mix into little bundles

sealing them up tight, little packaged envelopes

and repeat / fold / pinch / delightfully.


as the night cools into reaches of 1am

out of nowhere, you lean back your head and laugh

how silly it was, you say, that I was so depressed

yesterday, and yet here I am—and here we are

with each trace, scoop, seal, press, tiny delivery

we make little ships and fill plates upon plates

a fleet of little dumplings, and we lightly trace words,

spoon stories from our electrified nostalgic night brains

seal / press / fold, one little tale after another

full / filling.


a montage of pictures on my phone

a flour fight, laughing, the fluff of soft powder

sifting like snow in our hair, like frost on our faces

softness sprinkled over the island, over the arriving fleets.

and even though you later turned out allergic to gluten and

this moment, never repeated, is unique in all the world,

I go back to that post-midnight meal

the way we were kin in the kitchen

making trade and marking journeys

how we folded our chosen stories up into little ships,

sizzled the mix and turned on Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

and ate with relish, the sum of all ingredients.


Ellen Huang (she/her) is an aro/ace writer of fairy tales and speculative fiction who is still learning how to cook better. She has pieces published/forthcoming in Mochi Magazine, Next Door Villain, Wretched Creations, Enchanted Conversation, Sword & Kettle Press, Gingerbread House, Three Drops from a Cauldron, and Not Deer Magazine. She runs a blog where she indulges in the spirituality of movies that leave her feeling magical and well fed. Follow if you wanna: She lives in San Diego with her pan roommate, his pet gecko, and whatever benevolent fire demon keeps the place running. 

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