Sea Skull by Evelyn McCorristin Peters; for more information, visit http://www.barkingdogcreationsstudio.com

Sea Skull by Evelyn McCorristin Peters; for more information, visit http://www.barkingdogcreationsstudio.com

Immortality, Part Two

by Cassandra Hsiao

after Li Ching Yuen, the immortal herbalist

sit like a tortoise
walk sprightly like a pigeon
sleep like a dog

You are what you eat. Hair like tangled ginseng roots, dry, yellow fibers. No problem—just shave your head. Right before you died your skin turned the conspicuous color of lingzhi mushrooms, red-to-brown varnish. (Soft when fresh). Wrinkles like fungal layers. Emperor Qin Shi Huang must be turning over in his grave with jealousy, that you hold the elixir of life in your hands, a diet of lily pad-shaped herbs and rice wine. Does each century feel older, heavier?

We all eat time differently, force larynxes to expel wind through crumbling teeth and call to each other across the decades. Loneliness is a side effect of preserving animal carcasses. Your body is intact, but did your memory age? Your tongue decay? Women pass through you like a river through a cave mouth. Happy New Year, shen ti jian kang: body, stay healthy. Good luck digging your fingernails through death.

tell me your secrets
palm me blood goji berries
keep a quiet heart

cassandra

About Cassandra Hsaio

Cassandra Hsiao is a senior at OCSA (Orange County School of the Arts). She is an editor of her school’s award-winning art and literary magazine Inkblot, and has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and National Student Poets Program. She has been chosen as finalists of national playwriting competitions held by The Blank Theatre, Writopia Labs, Princeton University and California Young Playwrights. Her poetry, essays and reviews have appeared in Jet Fuel Review, LiveWire, Hemingway Festival, Aerie International, Feminite Inquiry, and Rambutan Literary Magazine. She also conducts print and on-camera interviews as a reporter and film critic for multiple online outlets.

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