I Fought Emptiness and I Won

by Cynthia Li
Art by Megan Xu
Issue: Scintilla (Spring 2019)

One battles emptiness with
a double-edged sword,
a rusting shield,
a mouth full of teeth, grinning.
Strap all of these upon one’s body
and head out into a chasm.

Here lies a star. A ghost. A noble
kingdom. Their hollow graves
and shattered ruins.
One cannot be troubled by these
small bitter endings. One must ignore
all the warning signs. Move quickly.
Don’t worry.
They cannot hurt you.

When one meets the abyss
one may feel fear. Dread is natural:
do not let it hold you.
Sharpen your blade and your
sweet-talking tongue. The brink of the world—
don’t you dare plummet.

Battle it out. It will take just a moment.
Smile victorious when it’s over: nothing will
have changed.

One may mostly forget. Shining metal abandoned
in one’s bedroom corner.
Your parents still shout in the hall,
your hands shake in the rain.
You may still wake
late at night with the moon,
and find that you want
that piece of void

A person climbs out from a chasm with gaping, spiky maws in the darkness below.