swaying red lanterns by D.A. Xiaolin Spires

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Narrated by Dafydd McKimm

swaying red lanterns by D.A. Xiaolin Spires
Illustration by Sue Babcock
breezes pick up and the soft sound of rubbing paper,
reminds tingting of the scratchy way her ah-ma
            folds paper cranes 
                        when she’s lonely 

globes dangle
            in the street against the night sky,
                        plunging the darkness
            with bioluminescence

she fishes out a sweet, sticky dumpling from her soup,
            it’s warm and thick going down
                        as soothing as 
                                    hot fudge on a cold sundae
                        made of black sesame paste

lantern riddles written on thin paper sleeves
            challenge the children next to her,
                        happily they shout out answers
                                    only one of them is correct

tingting’s teacher walks on tippy-toes,
            smiles with mascara eyes
                        in her hands, a bright red lantern
                                    pear-shaped and dotted
                        with plum blossoms

tassels trace phantom calligraphy in the wind,
they scrawl into the night
            her unsaid aspirations
                        the substance that underlies
            all her loftiest dreams


BIO: D.A. Xiaolin Spires steps into portals and reappears in sites such as Hawai’i, NY, various parts of Asia and elsewhere, with her keyboard appendage attached. Besides Liquid Imagination, her work appears or is forthcoming in publications such as Clarkesworld, Analog, Uncanny, Strange Horizons, Nature, Terraform, Grievous Angel, Fireside, Galaxy’s Edge, StarShipSofa, Andromeda Spaceways (Year’s Best Issue), Factor Four, Diabolical Plots, Pantheon, Outlook Springs, ROBOT DINOSAURS, Mithila Review, LONTAR, Reckoning, Issues in Earth Science, Liminality, Star*Line, Polu Texni, Argot, Eye to the Telescope, Little Blue Marble, Story Seed Vault, and anthologies of the strange and beautiful: Ride the Star Wind, Sharp and Sugar Tooth, Future Visions, Deep Signal, Battling in All Her Finery, and Broad Knowledge. She can be found on her website daxiaolinspires.wordpress.com and on Twitter @spireswriter.

NARRATOR BIO: Dafydd McKimm is a British speculative fiction writer who now lives in Taipei, Taiwan. He tweets occasionally @Dafyddmckimm.