‘Riddles of Lunacy’, Rufina Jinju Kang

Illustrations © 2019 Saleha Chowdhury



for Kimberly

 [ Dragon, © 2019 Saleha Chowdhury ] Riddle: When is a hummingbird mightier than a dragon?
Answer: Every time I encounter a bone-chilling wind
that causes me to flinch and curl into a ruby-scaled ball,
and you enfold me in soft feathers the colors of rose quartz and amethyst
and sing me a lullaby that reminds me of where true north is.

Riddle: Why do we never feel safe?
Answer: Because we aren’t, my dear one.
We expose ourselves to needles and javelins
the moment we step outside our homes.
We protect people who all too often won’t protect us.
We were never meant to survive,
and the world reminds us of this every day.

Riddle: When am I allowed to touch your hair?
Answer: When the firestorm begins despite our efforts
and we have no other recourse but to braid a rope
from your curls to help us flee to the moon.
Have your go-bag packed and under your bed
so that when my claw taps on your bedroom window,
you’re ready to fly.

Riddle: What will we eat on the moon?
Answer: We will bring seeds
as well as other provisions with us,
and we will plant a garden.
I will spread my plaid picnic blanket upon the lunar ground,
and we will serve our children sandwiches
and fruit salad and lemonade
under the light of a burning Earth.
And they will ask us
What is that pretty orange jewel in the sky?
And we will say
That is Earth. It used to be blue and green.
If the fires ever stop burning,
we’ll take you back there to visit.
But it hasn’t been a safe place
for anybody with scales or feathers
for a long time now.


© 2019, Rufina Jinju Kang

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