Poetry & Writing

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Every year on the cusp of old and new,

grandmother kneels in front of the fireplace

with her Tung Shu and bookmarks,

tosses five quarters onto brick.

She watches the order

in which they fall, scratches my name

with her brittle fingernail into the book's margin

when she has matched

their sequence to a fortune.

This year was a good year, next will be better,

she always tells me after studying the characters.

The warrior who has won the battle

stands at a crossroad,

and his horse is hungry.

The carp tries to leap

the high wall, its scales

a blistering glare. The fisherman

catches the prize pelican

with an oyster in its long beak.

The kirin, half tiger, half dragon,

enters the forbidden city.

Year after year, she wants my fortunes

to drag me toward the coming year, but

how can I be as certain as grandmother

that my life is good? The warrior has won a battle,

but does he complete his journey

if he has no horse, no food? Is the carp's leap

transcendent or defiant? Which am I—

fisherman, oyster, or pelican?

And the kirin, the long-awaited prince—

to what political state is he born, and

what does it mean to be a prince and a woman?

                                                                                                              Priscilla Lee

Image by Akdong Musician (AKMU) from B'tween the Buds

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