[you bug me]
Poem by Jia Yue He
Art by Paphada Chantrakul
just a few months ago you were a worm.
you gorged yourself on greenness
then you stopped
& wrapped yourself in solitude.
two days ago, you became
fledgling stanzas that could barely flap,
so swollen with hemolymph –
now look at you. limping through the air
to the meter of your heartbeat
a visitor of midnight flowers
with eyes like brown sugar
and teeth like moons.
never mind that you’ll be dead in a fortnight.
[yet you think they’ll be afraid because your name
is only a few letters away from victory. you gall me.
they’ll see through your pantomime
and your wings will melt like sugar
in their mouths
and they will teach you your disguise
means nothing when it’s in shreds.
fly to the stars,
land on Venus
and taste your victory –
you already have a king
all kings have their little vices.]
but you might learn.
your children are your spitting image, not unlike a tilde.
they also go for the red ones. mull over that –
they even have your noughts and crosses,
your death’s head friends. you have an ear for
keeping the dark at bay
when you drink from the mulberries.
tell them to take it easy –
wait, with bated breath,
for them to disagree.
a war cry.
yes, you were young
you won’t last forever.
forget this life. it was briefer than a sunshower. last winter
you didn’t even exist.
you were a smudge on the underside of a leaf
balanced on a needle
and then you left yourself a smudge.
you’ve learned, I hope you have.
go on to new things.
pour your body
into thousands of creeping words,
watch them melt
into jelly and metamorphose
into strophes, scrape off the
gooey bits &
of cocoon, from when you were young &
afraid of semicolons;
harvest the sound of silken
in the shadow of an elm.