these are all the things you are: careful, mild-mannered, careless, hands aligned neatly together such that the uneven beads lining your angular wrists make soft indents on your scarred skin. uncertain eyes raised towards the spring dawn from beneath the pale red umbrella, a small breath lost as you curl yourself into the damp palm of the bronze buddha and stretch a thin sheet of rice paper over yourself – lighting the match where your heart lies quietly.
yet stepping backwards into the dark exhibit in the corner of the street on the last day, this is all we have left: thirty-three pale reflections of the moon dotting the curl of your spine, overexposed photos of a thousand altar candles and symmetrical sketches of museum corridors – ground over two hundred and sixteen hours and packed into small teabags to be dropped into the insides of a handmade doll, sealed and preserved with blunt pieces of loose jade:
animate stories, significant names, beautiful writings and shared glances buried beneath sleepy grins, wide lensed portraits and the loud voices of women behind counters hard-selling displaced language and history.
A/N: 三潭印月 (san-tan-yin-yue, Three Pools Mirroring the Moon): Refers to three approximately 2m-high stone Qing Dynasty Pagodas which were erected in West Lake (西湖，杭州) which are often lit at night with a thin veil over it. When this happens, the holes in the pagoda will project an illusion of several moons on the water surface, effectively creating 33 moons on the water surface – out of which it is really difficult to tell which is the real moon and which isn’t. These stones are also printed on the backside of the 1 Yuan RMB note. This was written after spending 9 days in Jiangnan – Visting Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing, Haining and Hangzhou – part reflecting on the people and events, part reflecting on how i barely know anything about chinese culture and perhaps should begin to actively try to get to know chinese culture better.