Origin Story: Apollo Speaks

by Esther Sun

        After Northern California (2020)

        Years ago when I lived
                      in the hills, fog filled cypress gaps
like words, like sons in doorways.
                      That was when I carved
        my second lyre:            out of the spines
                                  of forests practiced
                      in shaping openings. Back then
I caught birds for fun
                                  and gripped them
        in my hands until evening,
                      fingers wrapped over wings, heat
souring my skin as I pretended
        to be holding suns. Back then
                      I never felt
naive. Yes I was still that
        young. I sent sailors across the Aegean
                      just to see something mine
survive. I drafted poems: piles
                      of ribbons, not yet pulsing
        things. I still thought there was
                                  a difference between fabric
        and skin, didn’t yet know how
                      to dissolve them in my head
as one, trying to learn creation
                                  the way autumn walks
        itself out of the summer’s
dead. In my defense, I was ruinous.
                      I reached for more
than what could fill me. So when the bird-suns
                                  turned into fires
and flattened
        the mountainside raw — nothing
                      remained but lightness, the question
of what was still an opening
                      and what was just empty space.

Esther Sun is a Chinese-American writer from the Silicon Valley. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she received a Gold Medal Portfolio Award in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and has published poems in Cotton Xenomorph, Half Mystic Journal, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and elsewhere.