Sonnet for Haku, the Kohaku River Spirit
Riverbody crammed in the blunt cut of a boy. Dragon
bent to a witch’s whim. Haku, what I remember most
is the sound your hiked-up lip made, sticky with red: like
bark peeled from its pith. The gush-crunch of blood on tile.
Was that the first time I saw a pair of kind eyes bottom out,
go feral-grey? It was certainly the first time I thrilled
in it. Chihiro’s kid-thin arms wrapped around
your maw. I didn’t want to blame you for the wrecked
shelves, the buckled floorboards. You came around
eventually — but, you know, I’m not so green
as to think a river might love me back. Am I? Every
shore I mosey I get a little closer. I’ve got no balm,
but I still look for the shimmer-and-scale
of a beast whose teeth might miss me.
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