The one who walks on lotus flowers will never touch the river

Melinda Shen '24

 

The one who walks on lotus flowers will never touch the river.


Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai was the most famous poet in Chinese history. Throughout his lifetime, he wrote more than one-thousand manuscripts.


The people called him shi xian.

a god among poets.


Legend has it, he died in a river trying to reach for the moon.


Why did you do it? Why did you never settle down, why did you wander for years, stopping only to write like your poems were your map of the world?

Did you die wandering?


I like to pretend you died tired and happy, full with the taste of the moon on your lips.


Pretend you were falling back up the night and not underwater.


Pretend you died chasing the moon and not alone in an inn with the alcohol replacing the blood in your veins


He who wrote poems for emperor's wives,

He who got drunk and made art over 300 times.

You man of many names, how could you know that nobody in America would remember you?


I'm sorry li bai didn't live forever. I'm sorry for a lot of things.


I’m sorry for the way my mother doesn’t understand that being pretty isn't just being young, that I had planned to get eye surgery at eight years old, that in America the color red means war, that I am a lotus flower that wants to be a rose.


How long can I live a poet before the world kicks me with rationality?


Before I give up on the feeling of stars between my fingertips?


I have so many questions and the moon will answer all of them, I wade into the river and the night is black and suffocating around me.


It smells like smoke and I think I will wander forever.


Little pieces of moon bob up and down with the tide that rises to my chest and your perfect model minority could catch them like fireflies, quick, like the snapping of chopsticks.


Like the flash of a fallen star.


I am a liar and a fraud.

I am a monkey calling his friends to reach with him in the well.


The water is cold on my lips and the reflection gone from the cups of my hands.


The moon is already in your arms, you will be sitting at your dinner tables gorging fat on a crescent-shaped sky and I will die in a river reaching for it.