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What was he saying, nā?
the fishmonger elbows her friend:

Red-slippered Grandma Zhuāng
You know, every Monday I bring a basket roadside:
cabbage pumpkin lotus wood-ear okra ginger yam, for her
chair is rebuffed by narrow market rows, wheels snagged in grates

Yes, generous cook, unschooled beautiful calligraphy,
her parents wouldn’t kētóu to new soldiers,
careful dresser even after what happened?

Then or now? That’s why I’m telling you,
Zhuāng penned a singular fate.
Monday she went missing

before coming to market,
rolling, hā

surely on her way to market
Ending up 10 kilometers away, surveyors
heard shrieks upstream of the suspension bridge

suspension bridge where Móshénzǐ lurks?
the demon boy summoned a fog my own brother stumbled through
his blue-tan skin releases narcotic alkaloids or pheromones driving
animals mad, into trees and up crags

yes, they found Zhuāng there, downslope of the road, yet
steep meters above her wheelchair neatly parked riverside

they’d see her red silk ribbons
good-luck streamers fit for tricycle handlebars

See, mysterious how she came there
As though Móshénzǐ himself carried her

out of the gully or into the woods?
I’d dare,
Móshénzǐ might either, draw her up like my brother to
catch grasshoppers slap dung fuel disks scar her flesh with moon peach hearts

Zhuāng has no memory
deviating from the market, descending or ascending slopes,
impossibly, just a little dehydrated,
voice a bit gruff,
not even scuffs to her red slippers

impossible ō

Oh (dramatic pause)
walked right up the slope
no wheelchair needed

save you stress when next she comes to market.


[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Lisa Nohealani Morton during our annual Kickstarter.]

Editors: Poetry Department.

Copy Editors: Copy Editing Department.

Accessibility: Accessibility Editors.

L. Acadia is a lit professor at National Taiwan University, a dog pillow at home, or otherwise searching Taipei for ghosts and vegan treats. L. has a rhetoric PhD, Twitter, Instagram, and creative writing published or forthcoming in Autostraddle, The Dodge (Best-of-the-Net nominated), Gordon Square Review, Neon Door, New Orleans Review, The Dread Machine, and elsewhere.
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