Monkey and I Share a Cell

Jasmine An

There is a mountain over our heads,

Sun Wukong. You can call it Buddha’s

hand, his five fingers, moss-covered fist.

You can call it nature’s five elements

          earth, air, fire, water, metal

Or, what they have taught us of our nature —

the five temperaments

          quiet, submissive,

                     sexy — but passive! — tame.

I am quietly building a hammer,

Sun Wukong. I’ll weight the head

with the faces of cashiers in Chinatown

when I can’t answer in the correct

language, set the counter-balance

with the expressions of tourists

two blocks from Chinatown when I can.

Will you lend me your staff, Sun Wukong?

I want my hammer’s shaft to weigh

13,500 pounds. I want my hammer

to remember the centuries it spent

as a celestial nail, holding down

the bed of Milky Way, and the look

in the eyes of the Dragon King

of the Eastern Sea as you ripped it

from the ground and his palace

crumbled about his ears.


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