Jiatian Yuan | Art by Katherine Cui

Not far from here, there’s a little young lady
who lives all alone in her house on a hill.
Her cabin is small, but secluded and shady,
with slim wooden walls and quaint windowsills

Every evening as the sun dives down west,
she sets up her buckets and washbins along
the base of the hill so she can collect
the orange-gold sunshine and silky birdsong.

And when the night covers her world in a shroud,
she goes out to check on her buckets of sun
and carries them back up the hill, to her house,
so her guests can enjoy it, and their hearts can be won.

The party’s approaching, so she doesn’t linger.
She gently climbs up a rickety ladder,
and stretching her arm so the stars brush her fingers,
she winks at the stars and they twinkle back at her.

She plucks out the stars like sunflower seeds
and places them tenderly into her hand.
The stars are just what the sunshine-soup needs,
so they’re sprinkled with herbs and sauteed in a pan.

The sun-stew is seasoned with star-sauce and left
to bubble in bliss like a heavenly porridge.
And knowing that she’ll need some drinks for her guests,
she bounds down beneath, where the moonlight is stored.

The barrels of moonlight are kept in her home,
basking in shadow, away from the light.
The barrels are kegs, and they’re filled to the brim
with moonshine that trickles in night after night.

The knock of the first guests sounds in her head
so she carries the barrels away from the quiet.
The sun soup is ready, the wine’s in the keg!
She opens the door and the guests stream inside.

“A toast to the living, a toast to the dead!
and a toast to this party, my callers, my guests!
Feast on the sun, the stars, the moonshine!
Let me pour you a glass of celestial wine!”

Sunshine is slurped and moonshine is sipped;
stars are picked out and savored like sweets.
Troubles forgotten, old secrets slipped,
appetites sated, desires replete.

At last, the guests retreat into her mind.
Reluctant goodbyes fall on make-believe ears.
She cleans, and sighs for the party’s demise.
She hopes for the day when the guests reappear.

She misses her friends, wherever they went,
but remembers their presence, their laughter and smiles.
She sits by the window, alone but content
and gazes outside at the darkening sky.