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Ascent by Lyn Li Che | Word Riot

May 17, 2015      

Ascent by Lyn Li Che

Listen to a reading of “Ascent” by Lyn Li Che.

The morning you died
I tried my best to unravel
into a descent of woodpeckers.
I coughed, stretched,
but the most I could muster
was a squawk: a catch
in my throat like a toy car
down the sink. Sometimes,
I stop to gawp at my own
coldness, the way I bob along
like a jellyfish: all mouth
and hunger and no heart.
I was the one who hid
your walking stick, laughed
when your car wouldn’t start.
At the funeral, I bowed my head
to trace the graffiti in the pew,
thought back to those times
I watched you draw skyscrapers,
and tried to follow your soar,
your climb, your clamber.
Always, my lines shrank
under your Petronas Towers,
my boxes cowered
next to your Empire State —
but you ran out of days
before you ran out of buildings.
Once, a New York window cleaner
fell forty-seven stories and lived,
only to have his wife scold him,
insist he stay grounded.
If only she knew what
he had seen: the neat squares
blossoming into a city,
the wind laying its head
at his feet. If only she could
understand the weightlessness
of this grief: the hands thrown
skyward and the sudden lift
of feet, the itch of fingers
longing to turn to feathers,
the tiny barbules threatening
to break the skin.

DSCF0465About the author:

Lyn Li Che lives in Singapore, where she tries to do too many things. Her work has been published in The Claremont Review and re:verse.

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