Helina Li | Art by Alice Lu


I built my bones on ideals
covered them with paper and ink.
I painted broad lines, wet strokes
soaked thin white through with gashes

left the pages bleeding black.


I built my bones on promises
bound them with wool and wood.
I held my sisters, my brothers
crushed bird bones into splinters

left the walls dripping red.


I built my bones on riches
adorned them with silk and silver.
I drank liquid bronze, honey gold
devoured color like wine

left the world piercing white.


the wind is cold.

it tears. in its hands, silk melts and silver plummets: everything is carried away until there is nothing left but an empty, shuddering scaffold of bones. but the bones are bleached, the marrow sucked clean, so of course, the scaffold collapses too.

it is a long time before the wind drifts away; all that’s left behind is debris.


I build my bones on debris
dress them with skin and flesh.
I kneel on the platform
take a first breath into my lungs

leave my past in settling gray.