Sonnet for Haku, the Kohaku River Spirit

J. Bailey Hutchinson

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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