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14: Yinlin Zhao

Queer Poem-a-Day is a program from the Adult Services Department at the Library and may include adult language.

The Mpreg Poem

by Yinlin Zhao

Lil Nas X posts a picture where he is flaunting what appears to be a pregnant belly. There is as always, Twitter discourse over this. I am not on Twitter. I think it’ s camp, to misuse the term. 2. For five years I do not feel the comings and goings of my own body. How it stretches, distorts, holds itself. There is a self inside me with no body at all, content to float, to pilot the flesh-suit from afar. 3. One of my friends loves animals, their babies especially. Fish eggs, little kitten fetuses frequent his art, small and frail and naked. Their eyes do not open, appear sleepy, appear raw, the umbilical cords ropey. And 4. Giving birth was the most painful experience of my life, my mother says. So bad, even, that she is constantly trying to find in me the right thing to say: God, why did you send me this plague, this terrible grief, what

was your purpose to make in me this wretched outline of surviving. 5. Back to the belly. It’ s so swollen, the skin taut and shiny and it looks so fragile, blood blister like, heavy, and I’m afraid, what does it mean to change in that way. 6. A pregnant cat is just a pregnant cat. For felines, there are no gender reveal parties, no frills, no mommy blogs, no one tells the cat to abort or not to abort or just see the ultra sounds, the little fetus’s claws, it’ll change your mind, I promise. 7. I am particularly susceptible to this horror trope, the screaming thing in the sink in Kojima’ s P.T., the giant sagging baby with its black eyes and toothless mouth chasing you through the Resident Evil house–this is horror absent of the woman though she is always what is implied. I am not 8. Implied. They are

trying more progressive language, I think. People who can get pregnant those with uteruses re -productive rights. It’ s a nice thought, but I don’ t want to be that, either. I can’ t shake the feeling, clinging to my skin like phantom ants, of the implication: 9. After five years it’ s like I looked down for the first time and found I’d mutated, suddenly, surprisingly, two come to cradle gently between my shoulders. What if this happens again, if I look away, if I blink, if I find I’ve changed again. 10. Maybe Ethan Winters is trans and the huge tissue that tries to kill him is not his wife’ s miscarriage, actually , it’ s his own. 11. No man of woman born can kill Macbeth, but Macduff is a c-section baby, and will. Does this mean you’re not born if you come out another way? I would like the things inside me to find their own way out,

chewing through the uterine lining if they had to. 12. In Alien, the woman is the only one who escapes the violent, the hungry, the alien baby, the pregnancy of the chestburster , its visceral power. 13. I am aware that this is sometimes, to some people, a sex thing, but to be trans and Asian means I will always be something you can find on Pornhub. The line between scared and horny is really no line at all. 14. I fucking love babies. I think they deserve all the gentleness and love and grace in the world even from strangers even when they are cry-screaming on the plane, with the lights low and the cloudy black sea only so far beneath us. 15. You can’ t un-have a baby. 16. For everything that I am, my mother still wants grandchildren. But I don’ t want to ask God that question.

I am saving my wishes for other things. 17. There is a difference between what I know to be true, my extensive philosophizing on gender theory, and the things my body will accept. 18. It is the purpose of the salmon to fuck and die. They swim against current, against the simplest and truest working of the world just to have their babies. Their bodies change, turn the color of red meat and algae. They get sharper , their jaws distend. The roe is beautiful and shiny and orange and they become monstrous to make it. 19. Some people are so sure. But I. 20. Maybe if I loved someone a lot. Maybe if I got top surgery, if I had money, if I knew for sure I’d live the year , and the next and the next and the next and the next 21. I dream of eating, of tasting placenta, crunching on the tiny bodies pro-lifers wave outside of clinics. Of it inside me and then we can both be trapped in

my body, looking to God for just -ification. We are crabs together , in the bucket. 22. If I were a cat I think I’d be okay. I would gather my kittens around myself, curl up and watch them open their beady eyes for the first time, against the late afternoon sun.

Copyright © 2024 by Yinlin Zhao.

About the Author

Yinlin ZhaoYinlin Zhao (he/it/go for it, truly) is a writer/student out on the East Coast and on the world wide web. All the stuff it makes is probably about robots, bugs, or a secret third thing. His work has been published in warning lines literary, Hominum Journal, The Dawn Review, and antinarrative, and has been recognized by Scholastic. Its website, which has a bunch of his creations, is


Queer Poem a Day graphic

Queer Poem a Day

Queer Poem-a-Day is directed by poet and professor Lisa Hiton and Dylan Zavagno, Adult Services Coordinator at the Deerfield Public Library. Music for this fourth year of our series is from the second movement of the “Geistinger Sonata,” Piano Sonata No. 2 in C Sharp Minor by Ethel Smyth, performed by pianist Daniel Baer. Queer Poem-a-Day is supported by generous donations from the Friends of the Deerfield Public Library and the Deerfield Fine Arts Commission.

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