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.