Submerged in Cold Water

by Alina Ying
Issue: Aphelion (Spring 2016)

I breathe once
           with the breath touching a lily-flower
this pearl robe-dress of mine
                in the water as the droplets cling to
     the tips of my eyelashes
                  dark against the clear, clear water
my tangled hair
            like ink blossoming out into calligraphy
             and my China-red lips  
                      dead red within the aqua
and I see the little trills of
whispering out in round,
          round circles.
that tell of my hundred-thousand lives,
           my hundred-thousand rebirths.
           O I look in the world-lake not for its beauty
                       but for the depth
                                of my reflection,
the crux of my soul.
           and I glimpse, for a moment,
                       the jade watercolors tinting
   my life into another
                                worth reliving.
                       and each time I go ‘round and
                                   ‘round in my everlasting
                                          cycle of karma,
                       I cry for my sleeping fairy-spirit
                       that endures again
                                   and again, the world
                                          crueler than the kiss of the Moon goddess
                                                                       when she
cuts a thread from the universe,

A sprinkle of rainwater falls silently,
when it tiptoes down my eyelids
and falls into the clear lake
and I,
a lotus in summer rain, still
as another ripple fattens out.
A quiet moment
                       and I see through the eyes of an innocent,
                       who places his flushed heart in the hands of strangers,
                       believing that good will triumph
                       And he was blissful
                       (or naive?)
                       And he saw the world through
                       eyes like cut glass.
                       In his later years, he switched them
                       for white ones. A product, perhaps, of
                       old age.

The rain layers itself again on me like a silken cocoon
I swear my ears, wet and cool,
                       hear the heartbeat of a defeatist,
                       she has nothing, she knows
                       and her why is in
                       questioning the world who only sent her to suffer in
                       camps of quiet death marches with the blood
                       of her kin next to her, living in a world
                       where prayer is hopeless and a dictator
                       rules both her body and mind.
                       She’s closed her ears, already
                       so no more words can hurt her.

The rainwater drips down
          down my red, red lips,
                       and I steal away the voice of a dreamer,
                       the boy who sees all, hears all, feels all
                       And understands that the universe
                       is simply a reflection of yourself.
                       He voice,
                       His thoughts,

    I hum a lingering requiem for my past breaths, my past lives,
                and endless jade-water creeps up on me…
                          This feeling
                                            is a feeling that I’ve experienced
                                                             Moon goddess, my sister,
                                                                                  I will see you again.
                                                                                             Third breath, fourth breath,
and then my hundred-thousandth-and-first.
Another lifetime,
Another chance
          to find who I am.