Size / / /

Content warning:

[Este cuento también se puede leer en español.]

I see it now: the cold afternoon, the curious garden, the climbing vines, the pinnacles, the oddly shaped puddles like Chinese letters. Again: the grand old birdhouse, the ringing doorbell, the cyclical incantations, the soft, open footsteps of prey, the statues’ insubstantial stares, the constant rush of water through cracked rock. The whole landscape—vaguely sepia, vaguely black—between the white legs of a sleeping woman. An ancient postcard atop a layer of blueing dust. Add a few glass beads, various playing cards from a professional deck, some paper-dry leaves, and mix them all together in a vessel of green blown glass. Your photograph, worn by the elements, falls rippling across the mouth of the jar. For the last time I see your hair fade beneath the lid in a powdery mass as the dried leaves crackle apart and cover everything in a fine grey film of dust. Then I remember your words, always linked in my mind with the events and images that came after: “A dream carries out the hidden machinations of the will; but the sleep of reason produces monsters.” Your off-white teeth chattered as your tongue twitched, as your words lost all concrete meaning and took on new subtleties, deeper and more arcane. In fact, I lie with every portrait I attempt of you; your features go missing. All of it. For a few of us, your figure is still vivid, there beneath the margins of your photograph, your existence captured like a daguerreotype and your life comprised of a simple drawing on a shiny surface; an image dependent only on ideals, on vague relationships, on fruitless efforts and clumsy literary concretions. After some memories and impressions, you fade away—hidden, blurry, inaccessible, an ironic fulfillment of your old declaration: “The loneliness of death surpasses all else.” You accounted for yourself using every verbal flight of fancy, using big statements and tiny details, all with that urge towards self-recognition that transcends even the ages and has left me, your beholder, your receiver, with this strange ability to fulfill all your hidden ambitions, to communicate and materialize them. Now: lugubrious spiders fall on the grass. Now: the curtains move, revealing a seamy landscape of Romanesque memories, mildew and stones, perfectly curved arches. Now: I’m not where I started this page, but in a place of night and dawn where your figure rises, solidifies, unfolds, trembles, announces a new rebirth. And I know you will be there. Always going on about yourself, monologuing with a scene partner in all sorts of conditions, like the indistinct character who on certain occasions watched us from beyond the path, beyond the foliage, reproving and paternal; and I know your presence will keep harassing me, refusing to disappear completely; it will settle in some privileged place like a bad thought, obstinately repeating even the rarest of your stubborn gestures; challenging me to a duel as you point to some region of your body—the middle of your forehead, your chest, your belly—and speak words of tenderness (“I’m here”), of obsession (“Look at me”), of persuasion (“Touch me”). With these fruitless efforts one could say you manage, in a way, to return to life, or at least to what we could call a relatively lucid, conscious, unsettling state of existence. “The state of agony,” as you might have said but never did. “The simple state of reason.” Tortured, we’d suggest; Indifferent, we’d continue. “Like any elemental form that pulses, suffers, and reacts,” but not yet. The aftertaste of life gives time the space to die; the passing of the years turn into seconds, into particles of nothing, empty situations consumed by the mist that lingers through some distant epoch until the slow lighting of the lanterns, in an always-present time, always revealed in its different phases, always self-denying, always implacable. I want to talk about time. About the clocks and hours when I breathe the heavy atmosphere, the cold kerosene steam and the smoke scattered around the corners of the room. Thus time finds its fullest expression of power, and it fills me; it surrounds me in a potent aura like hemp or hash, thick and black and empty. I absorb shreds of time and my lungs exhale the heady mixture. This is the moment two opposites entwine and the depths of Scorpio exalt them completely: a perfect, flaming crest, like the sound of water—like the fount itself.

Emiliano González es un escritor de ficción, poeta y ensayista, así como un estudioso de los movimientos literarios simbolista y de vanguardia de Europa y de las Américas. En 1978 obtuvo el premio Xavier Villaurrutia por su libro Los sueños de la bella durmiente. En palabras de Augusto Monterroso, es “el primero y único autor mexicano que se ha arrojado de verdad y con entero valor al fondo de la literatura mágica.”

Emiliano González is a writer of fiction, poet, and essayist, as well as a student of the symbolist and avant-garde literary movements of Europe and the Americas. In 1978, he was granted the Xavier Villaurrutia Award for his book Los sueños de la bella durmiente. In the words of Augusto Monterroso, he “is the first and only Mexican author who has courageously and wholeheartedly dived into the depths of magic literature.”
Current Issue
29 May 2023

We are touched and encouraged to see an overwhelming response from writers from the Sino diaspora as well as BIPOC creators in various parts of the world. And such diverse and daring takes of wuxia and xianxia, from contemporary to the far reaches of space!
By: L Chan
The air was redolent with machine oil; rich and unctuous, and synthesised alcohol, sharper than a knife on the tongue.
“Leaping Crane don’t want me to tell you this,” Poppy continued, “but I’m the most dangerous thing in the West. We’ll get you to your brother safe before you know it.”
Many eons ago, when the first dawn broke over the newborn mortal world, the children of the Heavenly Realm assembled at the Golden Sky Palace.
Winter storm: lightning flashes old ghosts on my blade.
transplanted from your temple and missing the persimmons in bloom
immigrant daughters dodge sharp barbs thrown in ambush 十面埋伏 from all directions
Many trans and marginalised people in our world can do the exact same things that everyone else has done to overcome challenges and find happiness, only for others to come in and do what they want as Ren Woxing did, and probably, when asked why, they would simply say Xiang Wentian: to ask the heavens. And perhaps we the readers, who are told this story from Linghu Chong’s point of view, should do more to question the actions of people before blindly following along to cause harm.
Before the Occupation, righteousness might have meant taking overt stands against the distant invaders of their ancestral homelands through donating money, labour, or expertise to Chinese wartime efforts. Yet during the Occupation, such behaviour would get one killed or suspected of treason; one might find it better to remain discreet and fade into the background, or leave for safer shores. Could one uphold justice and righteousness quietly, subtly, and effectively within such a world of harshness and deprivation?
Issue 22 May 2023
Issue 15 May 2023
Issue 8 May 2023
Issue 1 May 2023
Issue 24 Apr 2023
Issue 17 Apr 2023
Issue 10 Apr 2023
Issue 3 Apr 2023
Issue 27 Mar 2023
Issue 20 Mar 2023
Load More
%d bloggers like this: