Sometime after I graduated college,
my Popo was trying to throw out a large, pink sheet. Upon it depicted a
traditional Chinese dragon and phoenix. The dragon had bright orange scales and
red spikes trailing along its curving body. The phoenix’s head and torso were a
dark forest green, but its wings and tail feathers were brilliantly colored so
that no feather looked the same. Both beings were enshrouded by wisps of
many-colored clouds that made it appear as if they were actually approaching
one another: the phoenix ascending from below, the dragon descending from
above. The colors of these mystical creatures was emphasized by the soft pink
satin that this scene it had been embroidered into.
My aunt, enamored by the image, wanted to keep it, for she
said that it could be used for some craft and would be a waste to toss out such
a fine piece. My Popo didn’t mind the proposition, but thought it appropriate
to let her know that the image depicted a dragon in love with a phoenix, right
before both creatures were about to make love to one another.
To my aunt, it didn’t sound
believable, and she dismissed this tale, telling it to me when I saw her a week
At first, I too could not believe
that copulation was the message. Myths and legends aside, these were two
different creatures: how could they procreate, much less make love to each other?
I’m not trying to be crude, but it’s impossible for me to imagine. Yet, the
more I ponder this sheet’s story, (the sheet is now the cover for a large body
pillow in my room), the more I understand why it never needed to make sense in
the literal sense. No longer do I see bird or reptile, but lovers captivated
with passion for the other. After all, is it not beautiful that these two
rarities, both uniquely different, find equal standing in their shared love for
their kingdom, the sky? Or perhaps I have put words into this image’s mouth
—like my aunt and Popo— when I should let it speak for itself? Is it my job as
the writer to give it a story and meaning, or simply to write how it is
beautiful meaning nothing at all?
Whenever the rain
comes pouring down, my heart longs
for my youthful days.
My father told me
to avoid you, for you were
a raiding vessel.
In fact, you are a dinghy,
small on I, the vast ocean.
love like this
was practically a myth
before you changed my mind
and showed me that it does exist.
Dear So & So,
It’s been 5 years— I wonder if you’d recognize me; this face, this countenance, the expressions I make.
Would I recognize you? If I did, it wouldn’t surprise me. To remember your smirk, your reserved mannerisms earnestly reaching towards me, the way that your eyes would crinkle upwards as you gave a genuine laugh— would I?
Are you still the same? Cause what I don’t remember is the sound of my name on your lips, articulated by your tongue and echoed through your diaphragm. I don’t remember the sound of your laugh whether it was light and happy or if it was given nervously, timidly as if you were scared that someone would take it and force it back into your mouth and swallow down the reason why you ever dared to open up.
I also don’t remember the look that your eyes had. What I like to think is that they looked lost.I believe that they did— no. I know that they did. That the way your eyes looked out into the world was as if they desired, longed, wished, wanted, lusted— that all their owner ever wanted, needed was someone to ease their loneliness. I think, I think that they looked at me that way. They told me that it was me. I thought that it was me.
Yet, 5 years have told me otherwise. The way that my phone doesn’t ring, the way that a message with your face doesn’t appear, the way that my email inbox doesn’t have your name attached to it: they all tell me it wasn’t me. Right now, I finally realize, I finally know that it wasn’t me.
So if I saw you at a glance, would I recognize you? Yes, I would, but I’ll pretend that I didn’t.
Wishing you the best, even though I do not know what that means anymore.
Saying that I don’t care
It comes back no matter what room I’m in.
No matter how many times,
It comes back twice as tall.
Waiting for me to go through it.
I’m dreading that it will remind me
That comes into contact with it,
That it exists,