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The weeping willow

— Natalie Linh Bolderston

The year the pale spring tongued
open your ribs,

you plunged your hands into any body
of water you could find.

You knelt to retrieve your face
and felt your knees roughen.

You lived on as a hook-shaped prayer:
casting shadows in the dreams of liars.

On the seventh month, you stood in a doorway
and gathered ghosts in your arms.

You still dream of silver arrows, unholy fire,
curse-twisted air.

You grew lonely and shaped the wind into voices,
unwound strange words like cocooned moths.

You wanted to outlive the gods that made you,
to brush the foreheads of your descendants.

You perspired until the rains began,
releasing a year of village sacrifices.

You watched yourself unroot,
then replanted your hands and meant .

Note: ‘casting shadows in the dreams of liars’ is adapted from a line in the Prophecies of the Chinese Goddess of Compassion, a set of poems that can also be used as a divination tool.


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