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
                                                                      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