The Dead Boy Inside Me, by Angel Leal

My flesh
preserves his memories,
his desires, his unfulfilled dreams

of brotherhood. I carry him
like a mother, my boy who
loved to sweat under the stars.

I buried him myself
under lipstick and cloth
and the body I needed to survive.

Still, his little bones
jut under my cheeks
some mornings, and I remember

I don’t hate him. How can I
hate a lost child? Too many voices
are lost in the labyrinth

of puberty. At least he’s still alive
enough to see through
my eyes.

Dead boy, listen, I say.
The world is still precarious
for boys who wish to be girls

who like to shapeshift
into various forms.
Yes, but there is a language

for you now. A name for
your loneliness, my sweet child.
Won’t you skip through

our memories and see
you needed to not make it
so I could.

Angel Leal is a Mexican, trans/nonbinary writer whose poems have appeared in Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, Anathema: Spec from the Margins, Radon Journal, and elsewhere. They’ve been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Rhysling Award, The Dwarf Stars Award, and are a co-admin of CALAMITOUS, a queer sci-fi and fantasy writing group. You can find them at or floating around Twitter @orbiting_angel

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