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Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Looking out, I hear the croaky calls
Of husky-throated birds and the
Frothy licking of sea tongues.
Purplish azure spreading widely,
Timelessly, when once my Father told me

The beauty was infinite and he smiled at the pair of
Big bright brown eyes
Glowing up at him in belief and awe,
Believing the secrets of the sea
All the wonderful things he told me.
Holding my hand, imprinting the sand
With our shallow foot prints: big and small
My chubby hand in his, the other
Collecting the glossy, opaque nails of sea dragons.
Sometimes we found sharp, dull-colored ones
And these were the faded scales of their leathery tough
Skin. Craggy black wings folded jaggedly-
Mountains, the ignorant people called them
Only we knew underneath those folded wings
Lay a sleeping, ancient dragon with its
Golden eyes watching out for its children,
The White Sea dragons that ran along the edges of the waves.
Speeding on rapidly, diving under
Out swimming the run of short brown legs
Decisively deaf to a child’s sunny yells.
When the sky was littered with stars
Before I began dreaming I could hear
The rush of wind as the dragons unfolded
Their restless wings, the gentle splashing
As their children twisted in and out of the water
And what Daddy said, Sweet Dreams,
Arrived shortly thereafter.  

Yet today I search vainly for their younglings
Gone in sunlight, in the midst of red foreigners
Coming out of hiding after dragon-hot sunsets and
Only behind closed eyes.
The spikes on their powerful wings
Have melded into dark shadows of trees
The jar of multi-colored sea glass remains
By my bed, reminding me of how when Daddy’s eyes
Could no longer burn bright with belief
In such magic, he placed the spark in new eyes
That were identical to his:
In both shape and color.
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Once upon a time,
There was a little girl with a mouth too wide
She complained with a face as sour as lime
One day she was eating a bowl of hot rice
With fried crumbly meat
Cut up in tender slices
So there was nothing to complain about there
Until she felt a strand of hair
Inside the chewed rice-and-pork
In her mouth
Her shaking hands clenched the fork
Working up a quick furious indignation
With the flick of her tongue
She removed it from the side of her cheek
And pulled it out with her fingers
With a most ferocious shriek
Kept pulling
An increasing disgust as she kept pulling
For the hair was very long
Until something happened
Something went wrong
Suddenly she felt a tear in her mouth
On her pink inner cheek
Blood that leaked
And dribbled down her chin
Mixing with her tears
Ran home to her exasperated mother
Who gladly sewed the cut
And for some good measure sewed
The corner of her mouth shut
So that now when she spoke
Only good words came out
And the Cloth Mouth girl
Never complained again.
They all lived happily ever after.
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Breathing dawn:
Cool breeze,
Quiet whirl,
Crumples in the purple cover,
Whiff of flowers from the wrinkled pillows,
Rumpled blankets,
Sleeping limbs stretching and awakening,
The call of feathered angels

Bony copper-painted-toe-nailed feet
Slumping against a chilly wooden floor,
Burst of artificial light against reflecting tiles,
Water once smooth and clear in the bowl,
Red circular prints left on big brown thighs,
From lazy resting elbows,
The sound of a flush too loud,
Scalding hot water pounding,
Press of a thumb,
A minty blue worm

A wand and black coats from a baby blue bottle,
Soft white heads of cotton-buds turned black,
Timber home of nestling underwear,
Gray button,
Silver clip by the hip,
Milk moustache,
Murmur of farewell

Sliding elevator doors,
Buttons that light up with the warmth of my fingertip,
Then enters a stranger you’ve known all your life,
Awkward mouths moving,
Awkward Good morning,
Awkward lift silence,
Awkward who-goes-out-the-lift-first-and-who-holds-the-door politeness,
Awkward Goodbye,
Awkward realization they’re-coming-the-same-way,
Um, oh, hm? yeah…

Waking up:
Concrete walk,
Peeling red paint on rusty railings,
Moving figures,
Sunrays bouncing over murky polluted water,
Faces from a roaring water machine,
Same guy,
Same glaring pimple
White and yellow stripes

Bells the Dictator:
Piercing, infuriating shrill
Slamming doors
Pattering of running feet,
Instructive bossy voices,
Flick the switch,
Blinking electronic light,
Automatic finger exercise,
Droning lullabies,
Stifled yawns,
Quick chicken sandwich
Piercing, infuriating shrill,
Spark of inquisitive interest,
And there it… yes… dies,  
Remembering past mistakes are not always unpleasant,
Loud voices that encourage a fly-away imagination,
Numbers scrawled on a page,
Competition disguised as genuine interest and concern,
Annoying shrill,
Stone steps,
Aching knees,
Clean plates dirtied with gravy,
Chilli specks swimming in soup,
Cluelessness given away by late laughter,
Fake un-sure smiles,
Pair of dark brown eyes,
One secret hope,
A lifetime,
Big blue sky
Ashy stubble on a meaty discolored chin,
A boy with a guitar,
Mellow strumming,
That sweet earnest smile,
Another shrill too soon,
Lick of an eyelid,
Shiny shoes,
Squeaky floors,
Rosy cheeks,
The quick dance of a net with a ball,
Bruises blooming like inverted flower buds

Clicking of plastic alphabets and symbols,
Dry patch of skin above the knee,
Big blue sky from the edge of a window sill,
Soaring, flying like an eagle up to the wispy white clouds,
Snaking through them like a sprinkler in the garden,
Blink of an eye,
Oh, a pile of homework,
***** statues behind glass,
Knocked down with a giant’s fist,
A great yellow eye with dilated pupils watching ferociously,
Sharp bob of my head,
Ahh, a pile of homework still waiting patiently
Give me a kiss and rest your hand on my head,
You know your love makes my day.
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Yesterday I stumbled upon a cluttered room
Its walls were crammed so tightly
And it reeked of an odd perfume
When many smells are mixed together

I recognized a little doll
A Dalmatian dog, my love when I was two
And remembered how every time I had a fall
I pressed his cotton head against my tears

But I had lost him so many years ago
When riding on the carousel
And was home before I realized with great woe
I had left him on the horses head

Next to him was a thick book
Filled with children artistry and letters
And when I took another look
I saw the E’s were scribbled in my hand

It confessed how I had been mad
When baby brother got the last cookie
And it sloped how I had been so sad
When I lost the race in the playground

But I had lost this book so many years ago
When that day, we moved houses
And I got a new diary, tied with a pink bow
I never remembered it again till today

My nose picked up a flowery smell
From my first fragrant bottle that sister gave me
And when I was six, I brought it for show-and-tell
I even sprayed a little into the air and impressed my fellow classmates

I was very proud as I ran out to play
For I was the only one who had a little smell on her wrists
And it smelled of daffodils and sunshine rays
I ran back to my cubby-hole to check on my treasure

But it was gone forever out of my sight
When that break, a jealous little girl
Snitched it out into her bag with fingers so light
So that it became her treasure, not mine.

Something glittered above my head
I looked up and saw it was the lovely necklace
That I use to keep by my bed
A blue leather string with a big bright star

The one that when I was eight
Bounced against my chest, winking the sunlight
And I bubbled with joy when I felt the weight
Of the silver star on my hammering heart

But I was a child and I loved to climb trees
Clambering the branches and hiding in the leaves
Until from my neck my jewel was set free
Caught on some tree in some park long ago

I stepped forward and kicked a golden object of the floor
Picking it up my mind rushed back to my mother
The only lipstick mother ever wore
The first lipstick I owned in my life

Christian Dior 024 Corail Hip Hop
A creamy dark red smudged on my lips
My first kiss that night on the rooftop
Like mother’s prints left on her milk mugs

It became my signature feature
Stuffed it in the back of my left jean pocket
Eating ice cream, till I noticed after
My left and right jean pocket were both now empty

A movement caught my eye and I spun
Faced the tall mirror that the wind knocked over
Years ago into pieces, looking like a bad omen
Of seven years of bad luck

I never met those seven unlucky years
But what I saw in the mirror was far scarier
Me, seven years ago, eyes bright as tears
“Hello?” she whispered, a question not a greeting

Her fat cheeks are sun burnt and brown
Big chocolate eyes blinking sweet and innocent
A curious face, so perfectly round
Pink lips that laughed and smiled

Her short thick legs energetically twitch
The softest rotund belly protruded
An allergic rash on her neck that itches
A straight fringe plastered across her forehead

This was the friendless girl who practiced with a basketball
By herself in the burning heat at home
Kicked a soccer ball against the wall
Drenched in sweat and panting tiredly

Suddenly we both laugh the same booming sound
I say, “I miss you, I love you”
Her ball-shaped head bobbed up and down
“You won’t forget me, I love you too”

The room fades into a corner in the back of my head

Ah, the room of forgotten memories.
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
Everything is covered in thick, heavy white mist. I inhale it in, and exhale a wispier, lighter version of it back out; my shivering lips parted in a small smile. I swirl the patterns of the mist in between my pale fingers, trying to beckon them into soft shapes in the air.

When I close my eyes lightly, the mist shows the little hidden stones in it to me. With my eyes closed, I can see the gently-colored ephemeral fragments rolling, tumbling gracefully along with the mist. I can capture one for three seconds with the fast nick of my fingers and read the secrets imprinted on their smooth surface, before they melt away from the little heat of my finger tips; because of this I do not steal the mists of its many secret stones. Some things are better left uncovered.

When I start dreaming away, the mist comes and whispers in my ear. I can hear all the little happenings it has seen as the years past by: stories of great loves, who loved with all of their hearts and souls; stories of children, who danced and smiled from the bottom of their beings; stories of kind hearts, always reaching out a helping hand; stories of bravery, and its many forms.

When my skin starts to go numb from the cold, the mist starts to circle my ankles and coil around my wrists. Little cold breaths of mist wriggle to the space in between my toes and fingers, tickling the soles of my feet and the palms of my hands. It envelopes my waist and runs its fingers through my hair, giving me Death-cold kisses on my white cheeks; and presses its back against mine as an old friend, sitting there, with wordless comfort.

When silence nestles all around, the mist rocks me to sleep, blocking my ears from any noise and from any nightmares to enter into my mind. It forms in thick layers underneath me, so that I can no longer feel the rough ground below me but a soft blanket of mist. It lifts me a bit higher so that I can float. So I float while I dream, and my dreams become serene, floating pictures.

When the ringing of silence grows to a quiet music, the mist curls into the palms of my hand, and the delicate wisps interweave loosely to form a hollow ball, with a parting in its surface the size of my lips. I lift my palms up and place my shaking lips on the oval hole and murmur a secret to the mist. I tell my secret wish; a wish that everybody has, that they hold on with dear lives; one that some follow recklessly, one that provides inspiration and strength, one that some, for the benefit of those they love, place away in a little jewelry box.
The hollow ball colors a pastel, pale blue. The delicate wisps tighten their hold to one another and shrink into a small pebble, sweeping off into the mist.

The mist forms another hollow ball inside my palms and I whisper a message, asking the mist to send it to a soul. I fill the hollow ball with words of beauty of the world’s nature around us and finding the secrets, stories and wishes they’re just waiting to tell you, if you’ll only listen.
The wind carries it off and it appears again: not as a ball of mist or fading rock.
But as a story, written down for you to read.
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
It’s been a decade and a half that I haven’t returned back to my little home in that far away magical place. Fifteen years- exploring and travelling through the world. It was always my dream, ever since I was a young boy. Living this life is lonely. No one ever belongs to me, nor do I ever belong to anyone. Seeing a million things is marvelous, but it could be twice as marvelous with a companion to express the feelings over instead of my usual, battered black log book that never talked back but was filled with entries from all over the world. One day, I’ll publish it.

I guess the fact that I was always alone was the reason why the little home and my little mother that I use to take for granted became more and more part of me as I stayed away. The land, the gently curving hills and glassy lake grew clearer and clearer in my mind until sometimes, it was all I could see when I shut my eyes at night after a long day of work. Sometimes I would smell the soap on mothers’ skin acutely and played her voice in my head like a radio.
A blur of bright brown eyes.

I’ve been to almost every country in this world: Japan, France, America, Denmark, China and all the different continents… almost a hundred different countries. Each country held such a different (but slightly similar if they were in the same continent) flavor in the air and never failed to teach me one new thing. They all held such distinct character. Beholding the stunning sights and noticing the heart-wrenching small details of a new place was my passion. It captivated me, but the calm, steady love of my heart remained still.
Nothing touched me like the memory of home and my mother. Not the women who flickered through the chapter of my life, appearing in explosions of lust and never meaning more than ***, though some begged me to stay. My loneliness would sway my path of thinking for a short one or two week before I realized it wasn’t what I truly wanted.  
My lovers reminded me of cookie crumbs fallen from my mouth down onto my shirt- there for a brief, brief moment- sometimes picked up to nibble on or brushed away and forgotten.

Oh Love; Love never found me. Perhaps all the travel I did made it harder for Her to find me. I was never at a place for long. Perhaps She, Love, grew tired of trying to catch up with me as I crossed the seas and vast lands. Maybe She got lost one day in an Indian market with the exotic, fat fruits and glittering bangles- fading off into the air with the aroma of powerfully rich local dishes.
Or maybe I travelled away from Her, and She got left behind.

2 a.m.- On a train: the train is brand new and the metal is still yet glossy and innocent from hard rains, thick snow or fiery heat as the Southern part of my homeland is so prone to. The window is surprisingly see-through, unlike all the muddy windows covered in dust, grime, bird droppings and smashed insects (especially squished mosquitoes) I have looked out of in the past fifteen years. I think I’ll read a few chapters of that book about Cambodian culture to distract my impatient mind: sitting on this cold train that will take me home is all I can possibly think about. Hurry, you ******* train, hurry!
There is something about a train that calms me down and makes me feel all starry-eyed. It is the memory of the only girl I ever loved. A little girl I grew up with. Such thick dark brown hair, big round bright chocolate eyes and the loudest, most obnoxiously boyish laugh I have ever heard from a girl. Hmm, I recalled the small rounded chest and bottom.
We lived so far deep in the country side and one day, on an overnight school trip, the school we attended at took all hundred students on a trip to see the city for just a day. Flashes of her eating a creamy white ice cream sprinkled with tiny candies of the rainbow and standing in awe of the huge library made me smile to myself.
How when everyone was tired that night back on the train, even the teachers exhausted after an early morning and keeping a hundred thirteen-year-olds under control for a whole day, fell asleep. My eyelids were just drooping when she appeared- I smelled her first, sweet like honey with a tinge of something sour like orange or lemon peels. My senses have always been sensitive- especially sight and smell. She carefully peeled back the curtains around the bed, crept into my bunk and cuddled with me, curling her tough plump legs.
My mind flew in many wild ways- for as I said, my senses were sensitive and the curiosity and thrill of an inexperienced young boy did not help to make them any paler- and try as I might to quiet the thoughts, they leapt at her every movement.
I suppose it was her way of telling me she had fallen in love with me. Her cold monkey-feet pressed against me and whispering the night away: her tousled head as she kept sitting up to look out the window on the side to look at the stars. I sat up with her and held her against my chest. I remember wondering how my heart wasn’t bursting from the enormous love I felt for this creature in my lap, watching the dark silhouettes of trees rushing by and the black swaying fingers of rice patties illuminated by needle-point stars and a full, silver moon. The beautiful creature turned around, placed her icy finger tips on my hot neck, and gave a little sigh of relief before leaning in and kissing me.

My skin was covered in goose bumps.

Oranges are my favorite fruit.
I left her, my little home and mother at nineteen. The darling was mine till then. I wrote to her, but when she got around to replying I had already moved. And there my love became my once-loved.
The heart ache didn’t last too long. There was too much to see, I was young and full of cravings and impossible to satisfy hunger despite the countless number of women. I lived in the moment, the fiery moment of passion and life, and the memory of her were blown to wisps.
A ray of pink sunlight broke me from my thoughts and as I rushed back from the past to its future, I wondered in a haze whether she had married or not.

Five a.m. – the sun was up. The sky had streaks of dark blue, so dark it was almost black. A ****** red of a newly-cut wound ran through the sky, arm in arm with royal purple and a pink the color of a child’s lips.

Six a.m. - twenty-two or so students milled into the train chattering. The younger ones have neatly combed hair, slicked down with mousse and parted so aggressively the comb lines are visible cutting the hair in hard chunks with a paper-white hairline slicing through the scalp. The smallest one would be around thirteen and the oldest at eighteen. The oldest-looking one is very pretty with slanted gray eyes and chestnut hair- very matured for her age. A puff of powder to conceal any imperfection of her skin, and the first two buttons on her school blouse unbuttoned to hint at a cleavage of well-developed large *******. Her gaze darts over me frequently. She looks like a lover I had in Holland. I give her a small smile and she returns it, batting her lids to reveal matted dark lashes and shimmery pale blue eyelids like the wings of a butterfly. No child, only if I was much, much younger and had just left home as you will so soon.
A stench of too much perfume emits from the girl beside her. So much that I am momentarily diverted and glance up at her from my log book. I will be relieved when they leave. If there’s one thing I find extremely unattractive in a woman is an overload of perfume- it becomes a stench that is a reminder of gaudy prostitutes.

Six-thirty a.m. -  The train jolts to yet another stop and they clatter out but not before I heard the words, “That man on the train near us was rather handsome, wasn’t he?” I cannot help but chuckle.

Seven a.m. – the train has stopped at least five more stations. This is going to be a long trip. Rummaging in my packed bag for a pair of dark sunglasses I push them on, waiting for the fact that I haven’t slept all two weeks in excitement (and travelling at the speed of light half way around the world at the same time) to kick in and hit me unconscious with sleep.

Two p.m. - the dark glasses cannot block the glaring sunlight of the sunshiny afternoon. We have almost finished passing the city. The rows of buildings, large houses, one-story apartments are narrowing and shrinking in size. I know the railroad tracks have remained unchanged in destination and twenty-so years ago I took this exact same ride but everywhere is unrecognizable.  
I check my wristwatch once again even though I know the time: around nine more hours to go before it reaches the very end possible station and I take the long walk back to my little home.

Six p.m. - I talk amiably to passengers on the train. It is beautiful to hear my home dialect again. The words I speak have grown quite clumsy and my accent is rough. No matter, in two weeks time I’ll be fluent and chirping along with the same fluid accent as the old man beside me is.

Eleven-thirty p.m. – I am all alone on the train. The old man just got off at the station before. He shared a portion of his sandwich with me and a swig of beer from his water bottle (naughty old man), seeing as in my anticipation I forgot to buy any food for the day. A very interesting old man who was delighted to know I travelled just as he use to in his earlier days- quote to remember from him: “Too many people go on about this ******* of a ‘fixed’ home: Home isn’t where you live, son, it’s where they understand you. I’m telling you, that’s something so special in this crazy world.”
It is horrible to be sitting here alone counting down the minutes without a distraction but after all, it is near the last of stations and no one ever comes here anyways. There’s nothing here that could attract visitors. If I were a traveler nothing about this place would excite me very much. Yet for this first time in fifteen years, I’m not an outsider and this land promises me much. My hand shakes from fatigue- but mostly from eagerness. Little home, darling little home, I am coming!
It is a chilly, chilly winter night. My breath pants out in short white puffs. I wrap my scarf more securely around my neck, capturing the warmth as I step out from the warm train into the cold air outside. I can barely notice my environment on the way home except the path has remained unchanged. It is as if I am travelling back into time itself. After a while, the coldness turning the tip of my ears and nose pink is forgotten. All I know is each step is taking me closer and closer to home.

I finally see it. The small little house with a small brown door standing quietly alone next to other identical houses comes into my view. The little homes are clustered on the edge of a river bank, surrounding by dark green trees. The crisp rustling of the leaves in the winter breeze brings a melancholy happiness so great it makes my chest throb. I cup a tiny bit of snow from the ground in my mitten and taste it: oh the same sharp iciness on my tongue.

I wonder if she still lives in that one with the indented steps, the stairs worn out by the thundering saunter of her and her five brothers. They still haven’t bought a new flight of stairs?

The river’s surface is smooth and serene, its surface looking like molten silver rippling in the slight breeze. I remembered in the summer when we, the children, danced; splashing in the water and the elders watched lovingly.

Mother’s carefully watching eyes on me as I swam to and fro, my laughter mingling with everyone else’s. She was especially careful after that near-fateful day when I was six and foolishly went swimming in August without telling mother as she made us her special clear chicken broth. I had inhaled gallons of water before she fished me out, both of us soaking and sobbing. How wonderful it was to hold onto something warm and solid: something breathing, full of life, and I clutched onto her and she clutched onto me and my life.
Up the wooden steps… how surprised mother will be. The ghosts of memories come running to me, pounding their way towards me to greet me first as I open the wooden door with the key slung around my neck as always: mother with her hair curled in soft mocha *****, mother making an ice lollipop in the hot summers in her flower-printed summer dresses, mother swishing around the house cleaning in her blue apron, the hot fire with hot chocolate as we told stories, all the different cats we had purring in a soothing melody… Amalie and her laughing figure spread over the sofa chattering away, Amalie’s quick, hidden kisses in the corners when mother was out of the room or pretending not to look, Amalie’s long hands creeping towards mine… Amalie and mother gossiping together and mother declaring Amalie was the daughter she never had and mother eyeing me knowingly, expecting me to settle my ways and marry Amalie…

Oh little home, I am back, I am home.

I shall go lie on my feathery bed and in the morning I’ll wake up and have no idea where I am before the thought comes back to me that this morning- no, I am not somewhere around half the world away- but in my little hometown.
As sure as the sun will rise, Mother will wake up at her usual eight o’clock and I’ll be downstairs in our sunny-tiled kitchen making a bowl of porridge for her and me.
After her tears and hugs, we’ll sit down by the fire with hot chocolate despite it being early morning and the skies aren’t yet jet-black. I see in my mind’s eyes her dark eyes huge as I unravel my colorful carpet of stories and treasure box of tokens from all around the world.
Maybe after that I’ll ask her whatever became of Amalie…
I hear the tread of footsteps on the stair case. They are heavy sounds. Has mother gained much weight in her old age? She was always a lithe little woman when I was here.
A burly shape appears in the shadows.
For one ******* blindingly stupid moment I think it is mother much fattened in a fluffy night gown, her hair curled up in soft ***** yet again. Perhaps I saw what I wanted to believe despite my senses and instinct suddenly prickling up in one jolt through the spine.
And the shape emerges holding a bat and the outlines gains focus to become a bear-like man with dark brows furrowed and a mass of curls. He starts yelling at me and slashing his bat dangerously.
I raise my arms up in defense and the world swirls around me. From far away I hear my voice shaking in fear and fury, “Where is my mother!” I yell her name and I yell my name to let her know I am here. I am insane with fear for the safety of my mother. No, it cannot be that I come home on the day a demon decides to rob the house of a frail gentle angel. If he has killed her, I will- “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HER?!”
“What?” he asks in a tone quiet from extreme bewilderment, his grip on the bat loosens and I am quick to see this and take advantage of it.
With an explosion of violent swears I leap onto him to throttle him to death. “MOTHER?! MOTHER! WHAT HAVE YOU ******* DONE TO MY MOTHER?! I’M GOING TO ******* **** YOU, YOU *******!”
A fast pattering of feet sound down the stairs and my mind registers them to be female before I am wrenched of the man and we are separated. I am about to clutch this woman safe from the hulking beast before I notice the skin on the hands pushing my panting chest away from killing the beast are too young to be mothers’. Her hair is a dark mahogany brown, not mild coffee like mothers’.
I stare at her, silent in shock. All the fight drains out of me.
Those eyes that were once so chocolate-brown and bright have lost their sparkle in her tiredness and appear almost… dull as she turns to me.
She says my name three times before I can reply. “Sit down here.”
It is strange that she has ordered me to sit down on my own sofa in my living room. Her frosty hands guide me. “Amalie… where is mother?” I manage to stutter, all the time keeping an eye on the monster of a man.
“Listen to me” she took a few shuddering breaths, “I’m sorry to tell you this way, I wished I could’ve told you any other way but this… your mother is dead. She died five years ago.”
She watched me with an exhausted expression, “In her will she left this house to you and me because she assumed one day-” she shot a cautious glance at the man who towered in the shadows next to her, nursing
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