nurses the fragments of a thousand skies in him. Furnace for the nearest sun, ornaments in the vacuum of memoirs. Tainted flesh of his mother, her mother, and the mothers before them swept into cobalt. Must wash in sand. Melt puddles flow yellow. He has carried the hollow through countless deserts. When his childhood friends morphed into characters of tombstone chants. The crows cry, pierce burning films to stir baubled lies. To forge in silence. To trade lips for the glob of glass around a metal pipe. His beloved are paper-thin when he blows into the free end. Green tint from copper. Scores the glass into wings of hummingbirds with a chisel. Breaks it apart. His is the shape of all souls.
(The Doll’s Festival)
Sleep tight, my daughter, in the sheaf boat floating down the river. Remember the whirring spring on the day you were born, and my warmth around you rising on its crests. To guard your breakage I buried my comb in the paddy, safe from the country’s razing yaw. There is no room for pliancy, levitated love in a girlhood laid in soil. Give me back my land. Give me back my youthful face, my tambourine shaking frost and wind in our house.
Your cadence scries only the new moon.
I’m alone again. I’m the doll shrine
floating behind you in crimson water.
Your talisman will breed frantically across the field. Songs of pathos. Songs of veils. Songs of blood chestnuts blooming over the Girls’ Day parade. You will be dressed in the prettiest kimono, riding a white goat, your laughter a filigree leaf. Tell me, what do you see in the pastoral hide and seek? For your inheritance I have nothing but slats in every part of my body. You have left me. Come back, little bird. Let me speak to you one more time.
You build libraries, cities, or just a treehouse with your name engraved on the trap door that opens when you jump out of your dreams. From your assorted maps I steal broken sheets of skies. As if your wastelands were smoke: the pouring words, gaping-holes into Las Vegas shadows. For adventure you stride the musk so hot of night, cyclones lapsed in whispers, faces drawn in water like thick moss on branches. You cannot be stopped. The rooms are orphans you fumble. Adamant. Nameless. The bottle caps in sawdust. In your pockets.
I cleave by the window-screen, waiting for the wind that blinds. Similitude of fear, or my dark veracities. The hand to lift through the flint of rain, alight in your poems’ nocturnal rings. The dowsing world unbinds, in conjunction, words seeping through the skin as pith. Writing, as only you can write, of how your innocence has come to a vainglorious end. I am tonight’s pantomime conductor. I am the fresco of your atlas, lands receding into an allotted sun. Tatter your past on my inked arm. In another life, you would be any kind of sinner.
“Treehouse” and “Pith” are from a series of prose poems written for Chris Al-Aswad, Escape Into Life founding editor.
Nicolette Wong is a writer, dancer, magician and editor of A-Minor Magazine, an online journal of flash fiction, poetry and art. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals including fwriction : review, YB Poetry, Thrush Poetry Journal. She is also on the editorial team of Negative Suck.