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You’re land, conquered. Tilled fields force-fed with honey crops that drill cavities into your teeth, which have begun to loosen in your gums. At night you run your tongue along them and think you feel the teeth wiggle. Maybe if they fall out it’ll make it easier for you to swallow what you’re given. You don’t know if you’re a soul or a spirit or a ghost; all you know is that you’re being peeled away from the thing you haunt, like the white skin that stretches over hot milk. Landscape shifting, wilting, throwing up. Thrown away.

I’m an indentured laborer who does not speak any language except that of your soil. I sit with a bowl of water in the mornings and try to make things float on the skin of the water, like I see insects do. On my passage here, I almost died. I almost shat my life right out of my ass. But I didn’t, and now I’m here, making you fertile. Coaxing sugar out of you.

It’s weird, that I seek you out at night. Others run in the opposite direction, away from the plantation. After many moonless nights you let me lie in your embrace. It’s not out of kindness. It’s because I dug a hole.

I get you in my nails and in my mouth and we start to talk to each other. We talk about who we’re going to be when the future returns. We talk about ways to act without acting; stasis as substance. I ask you if survival is something I should want, and you say nothing, because you think you’ve begun to like me.

We grow our bodies. You develop a thrush, and then a wildfire. The flames are bigger than ships, and sail faster. When I die, you cut me out of the world and replace me with silence. I become a soul or a spirit or a ghost; whatever it is you’re not. A poltergeist. I wreck things. We marry.

Listen to Jiaqi read "slowburn AU" below:

00:00 / 01:53
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JIAQI KANG (亢嘉琪) is a Sino-Swiss editor, writer, and art historian. She is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Sine Theta Magazine, an international, print-based creative arts publication made by and for the Sino diaspora. Recent work is featured or forthcoming in X-R-A-Y, wildness, and Jellyfish Review. Find her online at

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