BLOODLETTING

SHENG KAO

 
 

Crickets sang
melancholy serenades
as we marched by moon
and lantern-light
to a wheezing husk.
Owls hooted
from the collapsing roof.
Fireflies leaked like floating city lights
over ambient grass. Our hands
came apart in the water,
became fat and lye.
The ivy and the mosquitoes
gave us red blisters and left us
pockmarked like the moon.
After dusk, a lullaby played, of
wailing babies and the snapping
of vultures’ beaks. We lived only
on our bare bones. We lived only
with our spines. The air,
warm like a fever, threatened
to choke us. Linens soaked
on the laundry lines with
malarial sweat. We thought
of hanging blood bags
from the trees, but then
we’d have nothing left of ours
to give.

 

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