SPOTLIGHT: Night-Blooming Cereus by Melody Wang

it is still brewing

the storm outside
wails to be let in

it should not want to live here
with my anxiety in its perpetual death curl

I silently brew green tea leaves
from my father’s rural hometown

they unfurl at once, stately
upright soldiers defiant to the end

you told me to let the light in
so, for now, I will do just that

On this side of the mountain

the air was still. On his knees,
arms grimy up to the elbows,
the old man squinted to survey

untouched terrain. His steady hand
wiped off a trickle of sweat, and I watched
as he cut inch-thick tubes of copper

for another void-filling project. Hundreds of tiny,
bleached half-shells lay scattered in the dirt —
an odd occurrence, origins unknown.

He secretly believed that the shells
had been there for centuries, only resurfacing
when the time was right. Around us, drunken

swarms of avocado trees leaned, wilted
in the heat as the swollen fruit blackened
and fat flies hovered in giddy anticipation.

The old man sighed, defeated.
The sound was ancient
and familiar to me.


they are all
struggling upstream —
you watch

their shimmering
bodies twist in
danse macabre:

kin besting kin,
mouths agape, gasping
for another life 

Thin Reeds in a Still Pond

Knotted in odd places
like the spines of ancients —
wisdom accumulated
yet unequally distributed

no beauty / lies in uniformity

They feed from oblivion and pulse with life.
Rooted in still waters, the slow growth
of these skeletal soldiers echoing
the most minuscule of movements

awakens fluidity / from her sleep

Yawning off silent energy
reverberating throughout this cold pond,
she entices brilliantly colored koi to congregate
at the water’s surface, mouths agape, eager
at the prospect of nourishment. All around,
the night awaits and trembles with anticipation,
releasing delicate aromas of jasmine

lingering in the depths / of your subconscious

And the last drops
of fragrant tea will evaporate
revealing the pale, moon-like center
of porcelain teacup — a final gentle reminder
that when fluidity changes its course
and disappears, you at last
embrace your reflection

to become reacquainted / with the fragile whole

Two Roads

The night you couldn’t quite remember
how we came to be, or why

the complacent sky peered down
at our scattered transgressions

and returned to its lair empty-handed,
not wishing to partake in our sorrow

I could not see your eyes in the half-light —
nebulous with doubt, surely

I realized then that you had been unable
to see me for a long time now

I could feel the woods closing in
all around me and I did not stop them


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