after the legend of Hou Yi
This is the closest thing to love: an ancient people
shooting down nine suns & sparing the last one–
nine holes ripped in membraned dusk, air rushing
in to suffuse the cavities. Puncture the sky’s stomach
& scission her sons. My mother tells me: this thunder
is the sky finding her emptiness so unbearable
she fills the air with music. Archers sew chord-struck
arrows along her underbelly, carmine sky falling
around us like skin. Forgive our sweat hurrying
down a knife. Mother, remind me of water,
of the time I wanted to drown in a fountain.
How much sea is needed for drowning? A bathtub,
she says, a sink. No, a teacup full of old water.
Mother and I are two lost mouths searching
for a dew-slate roof, two cupped palms spilling
rivers. We hold each other as if we know
the parts of our skin that the sun will warm
in the morning. The hour always leaving,
always mourning the sweat shining in the valley
above her lip, lake-warm & lucid as a bow.