Steeped in Stars

night blossom,
vetiver to my barren heart,
let me caress you.

don’t go.

Your sweet song perched on
my ear rings steps into round
gates between bamboo groves,
a gaggle of cousins underfoot.
Grandparents chorus greetings
inside while layering symphonic
poems of perfume and tannin
in handwoven baskets. In the
fingerless swelter I fold my
knees beside you. The cicadas
creak a lazy rhythm as you
quietly unfurl on the shoulder
crooks of wooly camellia buds.
Wind-torn rice paper doors
unveil the white tiger, on your
dulcet tones the astronautical
lanterns sway half-blind-drunk

you must continue the family craft.

through sterile viewports,
refolded by the smithy of
the spacetime celestial.
As the telescope unfolds to
slow waltzes of gyroscopes
I’ll aim it at the seemingly
dark between scaly tails
of the mermaid-née-tiger.
Five generations and roof
are long gone, but the ghost
of the old stone wall still
streams your meteor shower,
little photons brave enough
to kiss your nectar then drift
over countless light years to
ping my tongue. I’ll taste
your growing secrets until
the sun rises over a perfect

roots, not wings.

cup of tea, bright gold as the
horizon moon, sonorous as the
mountain’s echo, heady heat
waking listless bones, endless
ripples of fragrance bobbing
lumps in throat. Chittering
children pouring over bouncy
baos and swirling tofu flowers,
steam curling hair and toes. An
impossible conversation over
an impossible dream, to roam
infinite skies one day with a

we’ll miss you so much down here.

novel craft. Pods upon data
pods of histories, neither hair
nor mote. Sole living things
two ivory blossoms emerging
from vacuum and anesthetic.
No tea here—not yet—though
machines hum like night bugs.
Ancient memories not mine.
Just the ache, lingeringly warm.

(Editors’ Note: “Steeped in Stars,” is read by Erika Ensign on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast 26B.)


Hal Y. Zhang

Hal Y. Zhang writes science, fiction, and science fiction, in no particular order. Her language-and-loss poetry chapbook AMNESIA (Newfound) won the Eric Hoffer Micro Press Award, and her women-with-sharp-things collection Goddess Bandit of the Thousand Arms was published by Aqueduct Press.

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