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retelling of the myth Con Rồng Cháu Tiên

Know that she was in love with a gaping maw, those gold-tinged fangs
that reeked of brine and fertility. Lạc Long Quân, king of the dragons, darling
son of the seas, wished upon the river delta with such a will and an ache that

the heavens allowed their fates to twine. Oh, sweet, sweet, mountain fairy Âu Cơ.
How her fear would weave into want in the thrum of a plea-filled crane song. How
terrible was want, to have gnawed so fiercely at the emperor of the waves’ ribs, to have

longed for so much that his resolve fell apart. Lạc Long Quân crushed her pursuer’s skull
like a conch beneath his fists, the monster’s blood oozing onto the hungry and adoring
plains below. How often does love begin with cruelty. Picture now: that fair woman

with the silt of the valleys in her hair. Drawn in silk sheets of allure like enamoured tides.
How long will it take for your love to recede, she asked. How long before this is lost
in something cruel again. I care not that I love a beast, just that the beast will leave

before he knows he is gone. No words came from the Dragon Lord. Perhaps this
was cruelest of all. He could not tell her their fate. How terrible was want, to have
bled with such a silence. Picture now: in the water palace, pearlish tears strung across

the walls of their home like dowries. Now, her husband said, and perhaps,
this was cruelest of all, let me hold your body against mine as the ocean does the
shore. Âu Cơ parted her blood-warm lips in unadulterated joy, blessings falling from

her lashes. Picture now: a hundred children, kin bursting forth from the fluid-slick
egg sac of the fairy, cold to the touch with the mark of the seas. Sons and daughters
of the greatest heartache of the heavens. How often do these stories end with anything

but departure. Lạc Long Quân held her hand. An ocean for an apology. A whisper that they
were bound to different worlds. Picture now: a stampede across the plains to the thunderous
beat of barefoot progenitors upon the grass. Picture now: the mountain fairy, left with

half her children, sitting upon the mountains, and the Dragon Lord, bringing with
him the other fifty by the sea. How terrible was want. How terrible was love. Know that
she was in love with a gaping maw, those gold-tinged fangs that reeked of brine and cruelty.

Sunny Vuong is the founding editor-in-chief of Interstellar Literary Review, and an alumna of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Diode Poetry JournalHalf Mystic Journal, and Kissing Dynamite, among others. Find her on Twitter @sunnyvwrites.
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