the floods of summer 2018
houses neck-deep treading nothing, their goodshutters closed as porcelain drums this land,ashen silk. fine cotton, handkerchiefs, pajamas,house slippers—in the irrepressible sea they take onthe shapes of people wanting to be saved.linen limbs gesturing prayer. terrible wind.the okayama of july had loved hydrangeas; in summerspast they blued the doorways into fog, oceanpetals, sticky to the touch. it means with eyes closedyou do not think of the roof tiles burning like coalunderneath your palms as you clutch them, waitingfor the water to reach out a murky tongue. for it to taste,and lap, and swallow. tonight we do not ask the earthwhy it turns, save for that it now has its backtowards us. and heaven has breached its own gatesto find even higher ground. a soldier reaches deepunder the opaque, searching the distance, and ashe pulls, a small hand, same color as the water,is enclosed in his like a pearl. this is how it mayhave looked millennia ago. before they came, plantedrice, peaches, built bridges upon the valleys,ladders toward the mountains. before they walkeduntil the paths loved their feet. before they fedtheir children and named them after colors,evenings, harbors. sitting at the edges of fields,shyly green with sprout, they caughtwith palms, with ankles, a glowing summer rain.
Copyright © 2018 by Xiao Yue Shan
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
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