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If Alice had been born in China

her feet would have been bound

(so much easier to stumble

down rabbit holes with these)

The Rabbit (fourth of the zodiac,

followed by Dragon, preceded

by Tiger) in his compassion

and serene sincerity

would have waited for her,

tumbled with her,

chatted all the way

The Cheshire Cat

of course, would have been a tiger

stripes at least as piercing as the smile

quiet and yet

always ready to leap

It would have said to Alice

in her blue and gold embroidered silk gown

much the same things

—tigers, after all, are also cats

if less docile, less tame

The caterpillar might well have been

a dragon

as of yet unhatched

sleeping in a hot fuming egg

but waking often

to speak through the iridescent shell

speak strangely, but never quite untrue

The Hatter

mad and drinking tea

would have been a hairdresser

no doubt

with fabulous black tresses

rising like winding towers from his head

scissors poised behind his back

Then there is the Red Queen who

would have been an empress. She

would still wear red

but also gold and white jade

and with her long pinky fingernails

she would have snatched eyes

before she ever took heads

Her roses

are peonies in the East

not red but almost so, with their dark pink

that is painted on ink here

because in truth

those oriental peonies bloomed ebony white

And then

the thing that would pluck

the Chinese Alice from her daydream

would be mahjongg stones

falling heavy

and waking her

to the shadows of living temples

the sound of honking cars

the smell and sound of people all around her

and to a different life

that would be not that different

at all




Alexandra Seidel spent many a night stargazing when she was a child. These days, she writes stories and poems, something the stargazing probably helped with. Alexa’s writing has appeared in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, Fireside Magazine, and elsewhere. You can follow her on Twitter @Alexa_Seidel, like her Facebook page, and find out what she’s up to at alexandraseidel.com.
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