The first thing you need to know is this: he loved his mother, and not in the way you think.
I married him because he was tall and strong, and had clean white teeth that shone in his mouth like pearls when he smiled. He courted me in the evenings when he passed by my home from the fields; first with bouquets of wildflowers, then new clothes, exquisitely embroidered. The final gift was a blue dress the colour of the sky. He told me I could wear it at our wedding. He promised he would care for me for all my life, so long as I cared for his mother while he was out in the fields.
That should have been my first warning. Continue reading “The Filial Tiger’s Wife”
The monk told him to give his wife realgar wine to force the snake demoness to reveal her true form. When her last breath sputters in her lungs, she turns white but does not grow scales. He never finds the monk again.
Four years after their exile from each other, the Cowherd tells the Weaving Maid that they must let go. If a day in heaven is a year on earth he will be dead in two months. Their children have long outgrown the baskets he carried them with when he chased her across the sky. He has new aches and scars she does not know. When he turns to go, the bridge of magpies dip under his weight for the first time. For years after, the clouds she weaves hang low in the sky, the colour of a bruise.
Continue reading “Strange Tales From A Singaporean’s Bedroom”
The cowherd prepares a picnic of the weaver girl’s favourite foods and takes them up the magpie bridge. As always, he gives her a crown of aster flowers he has woven himself, the violently coloured petals a shock against her dark head and pastel clothing. Her delight in receiving them are always the the same as the first time, on a summer evening by a lake. In heaven there are only peonies and lotus flowers, profusions of pale heads nodding obediently in gentle breezes, while the lady and gentlemen deities stroll, feasting on peaches. He can hear their genteel laughter trickle down to the Milky Way, and imagine all-too-easily their white hands and soft skin. His own has toughened into leather. Every one of his nails is cracked, and the dirt under them will not go no matter how hard he scrubs. This morning, he found a strand of white hair on his head. He wonders for how much longer they will be able to keep up these meetings, and can almost see the Queen Mother’s satisfied smirk. As though she can hear his thoughts, the weaver girl tilts his face down toward her, takes his hand and squeezes hard. He can feel the callouses on her palms. When he kisses her, he tastes the peach juice dripping from her lips, and feels the weight of the years lift.
Prompt: Write a pastoral poem that is also a poem of protest.
#EisnerBonus: Do not use language that potentially undermines the authority and legitimacy of a government and its public institutions.