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a poem by Feileen Li

Dry lips to ebony locks,

she presses a kiss against my hair,

fleeting and chaste,

yet delicate.

A breath against my scalp,

warm against the cool night air

my mother inhales,

citrus shampoo and something sweet.


Too sweet.

Too sweet to be the mangos of Vietnam,

the limbs tangled in branches

and soft skin against bark.

To be a slender hand

reaching, pulling, grasping

for warm red and orange.

Tell me more.

Though sleep tugs at my voice,

my mind is


A sigh and an arm wraps around me,

her body framing mine

like two crescent moons

hidden in the cover of night.

Too far away, she whispers,

to be the juicy flesh

that melted against her tongue;

to be the bright yellow strings caught between teeth

and sweat against the gentle curve of her brow.

She tucks me further into her embrace,

close enough to hear the steady thrum of heartbeats,

to hear the melancholy laced in her whispers

of a home worlds away.

Of tanned hands clutching sunset colored fruits

and rays of liquid gold against her face.

She pauses,

the longing in her voice

heavier in the silence.

Fingers thread through mango scented hair,

slowly and then still and I close my eyes,

strangling my desire to hear more.

The night is empty,

a lull in the winds instead of a quiet rustle of leaves.

Starlight soundlessly slants through glass windows.

The world has stopped for her,

and a hushed silence blankets the room,

one that I am too afraid to break.

- Feileen Li

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