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i.

Shoot, sure
we exist, just like banana ghosts
and handsome monkey kings.
Our homes grow slim slim green green,
swaying in the breeze. At night
we step forth, hum old refrains,
count the stars beyond the canes.
You don’t remember
already? Don’t worry.
Just because
you don’t remember
doesn’t mean we
stopped.

ii.
The story is like this:
That day long ago, we felt
screams disturb the wind
on our leaves. Like fire-
crackers gone wrong.
Suddenly they appeared
out of air, here there
weaving between
our stems, red-eyed red-
limbed. Everyone
scared of being
cut down.

We protected them, these unbarked
whose sweat and salt quenched
our roots. For nine days
uncelebrated we bent our walls closer,
striped them with shadows
thick as yearcake.
We walked among them, combed hair and held
trembling plum stone hands, traded
lullabies root to root until
fretful sprouts stilled. Their foes
crashed crow loud
around but never into us,
until at last the air blossomed
with no sound.
They tried to leave. We
let them
stumble forward, free.

Little shoot, you saw us then. You
waved goodbye.

iii.
Now your seeds are scattered
on distant summer shores.
They transplanted these memories
leaf stalk and barrel,
gave them root systems
on islands and temples and
tables sticky with paint, wax, fat
dragon tears.
They transport our lineage there, where
we guard midnights and incense fumes
for an annual glimpse
of these future ancestors,
alive, burning gold
and praying
for our uprightness, our
sweetness.



May Chong is a Malaysian writer of speculative fiction and poetry. Her verse has been featured in Apparition Literary, Little Basket 2017 (Fixi Novo), and the upcoming poetry anthology Undead (Apex Publications). She enjoys great stories, good cheeses, and terrible puns. Find her online at facebook.com/maychongwrites or @maysays.
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