a response to ‘Dapunta Hyang: Transmission of Knowledge’ by Zai Kuning

        how to love     the taste   of careless freedom 

the sweet hollow of buoyant ribs that carry us

along   unchartered coasts       our endless    home 

                    there was a time    


        people had gills        instead 

of lungs & breathing did not matter

                    there was a     time 

when    we would scrap  the     scales     off 

            each other’s limbs every February       

in time

for the monsoon       to wash   us dry 

                do you  


the boats we carved from

            the husk    of our sun\-dried       bodies?

  gnarled fingers fastened  each         bone 

                    upon weathered  bone                    with crimson wax    binding     all futures

to every known past

            it is said      that once you   drink 

from briny lips you must never

            look back   

        there are columns   of salt

beached on the shore

            to prove it     I was told  

            that once the            plaintive shoreline 

turns into a bed of green moss it is time

                for us to exchange   the ropes of 

our freedom     for the anchor      of dry land 

I remember waking up one night to find broken fingers

                sewn to my hands    & I had forgotten

    how to serenade      my lonesome lover      the sea

                        I could         not 

                tell    the names

    of each     island      or the faces    

                        of      each stone 

my gills had left me breathless & there I stood

                naked                     & rooted              to a guilty coast