for li bai. 鏡花水月 (mirror flower, water moon.)
in downtown palo alto the moon is placed in this hypotonic solution. dirt and brine swirl through the transparent cellophane until the moon’s turgor pressure rises. she expands, rapidly and all at once, pushing against her skin, swelling pregnant.
is it monsoon season already? you ask.
there are a thousand different ways to say that i don’t know. i am a city-girl, smoked skin and puffy under-eyes. my tongue has long forgotten the taste of august, my eyes what it’s like to witness mud blossoming under our sock feet. i’ve never stood barefoot in a rice paddy, watched them flood it and trailed a finger through the water just to see it ripple.
i say: not sure. maybe?
you kiss me in the freezer isle at cvs and the moon pops, her light leaking out yellow-gold like durian. when you tug me out of the store, and i am stumbling after you with my legs wobbly, alma street has flooded. we wade through the moon’s fluid and you laugh at my wonder, spin me around and around until i am breathless.
mama calls me a few minutes later, says: it’s raining. should i come get you?
i tongue my teeth and squint at the sky, pretending to make a map out of the wrinkles in the plastic wrap. i try to put into words the way it feels when we hold hands. it’s like when locusts bite at the clouds. like when i pull purple yams out of the earth, and they are warm and baked through. like when i speak chinese and the words get caught in my throat, but i know i have time to find them. it’s like when i walk in the house and the ac is already on. like when the white flesh of the lychee kisses the tops of my fingers. like when the air hangs humid in the airport, clings to skin as if to say welcome home. in these words: i like it. i like it very much, and i’d like to do it forever.
instead, i tell her: okay.
Jasmine Kapadia has work in or forthcoming in Same Faces Collective, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Ogma Magazine, Malala Fund’s Assembly, and Cathartic Youth Lit, among others. When not writing, she can be found stanning Beyoncé or (re)-binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. Find her on Instagram: @jazzymoons.