Prayer in a Tainan Night Flower Market

Under this sago-pearl moon, a mall of night air —

                           Octovalvis, scallops,
                           moth-orchids, loquats,
                           doufu, pre-cut guava.

On a shaggy ore of ice, oysters on the rocks.

Her aunt rattled a bottle of aspirin, naming each pill like a star: Alpha Centauri, Gamma Cygni, Zeta Leonis, and Polaris. Her niece wept in a courtyard of azure tiles. Dear God. I choose life. Peonies feathered intoxicating rain. Typhoon of the ocean, unleashed weeping of silver years, yet she has not aged. Beauty she never enjoyed in youth now glowed in senescence. Never fixed her teeth, but still had them all, each lunar-root a dentine jewel. A wayward spouse returned, bone-frail from city diseases, yet she took him in.

In a courtyard, those peonies grafted in bloom, and those not.

Upstairs, a patient with an autoimmune syndrome lies on the floor in a heat wave, praying all day. God in a string of winter lights, the design of suffering — a soul is a well of prayer. Who is God, who chooses to dwell with us in our suffering, not vanquish it. A son who is a scholar buys stocks overseas, never returns. One who fixes bicycles stays home. When monsoons arise, mudslides close the roads to the marble-veined gorges of Hualien, unhewn miles of swallow-cliffs.

To live with fire hills to the north, not the south.

There is no door
at the open air market in Tainan.

Enter freely.

Misty Light 120s

“Misty Light 120s are the most glamorous cigarettes.”

Sons & Other Strangers

“Two girls stand in line at the coffee shop wearing prairie sundresses and red lipstick, trying to remember the lyrics to a song.”