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The moment we played the song of her spring
a startling change washed over my aunt—

only her eyes remained closed in sleep,
but her age poured off everything
else, her features slipping backwards
in time as the melody slipped through her ear
and kick-started the hidden, rusty mechanisms

of the body: new ink trickling
through each hair, skin smoothing out
like a shirt pressed under an unseen iron,
lips unfurling upwards like budding leaves,
having released the weights that had grown
heavy with years below the jaw.

By the chorus she was a young woman again.

We dared not wake her, afraid of breaking the spell.
Surely this was what people meant
when they spoke of music’s healing properties—
how it reminds the body that it was once
free of pain and full of possibilities.

Quietly and methodically
we lined up song after song
until we had a playlist that unfolded
across her decades—it would steer her
through a dream lasting lifetimes.
But after a few days of this, we realized
she would soon starve unless she woke up
to eat. If she lived
in beautiful young sleep forever
she might as well have been dead.
Slowly we wound down the music,
hoping it had undone enough damage …

As if she had been waiting for this intermission,
her lids lifted like heavy curtains, the night
within her peering out through the dark marbles
of her eyes, wet and tired, recalling who
she now was. Trapped. She had to come back
and so she was back, our aunt, our dear old aunt.

Yee Heng Yeh is a Malaysian writer and Mandarin-to-English translator. His poetry has been featured in The KITA! Podcast, adda, Strange Horizons, and a few local anthologies, and was shortlisted in the Malaysian Poetry Writing Competition 2021. His translations of poetry are forthcoming in Mantis. You can find him on Twitter @HengYeh42.
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
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