But I was Ceres then and I knew
winter was in store for every leaf
--Eavan Boland, “Pomegranates”
Because my father has no story to bequeath
his son, I make up stories to live by. I am
the Dragon Prince who falls into forbidden love
and so is banished from the palace of the sea.
On days when the sun brandishes its magic swords
I journey to the West as wily Monkey God
to fetch the Scriptures, fighting demons on the way.
From my right ear I draw my tiny magic pole
and whip the fox spirit with a springy cane
or else, expanding the prod to a temple pillar,
crush a snake demon with the majesty of heaven.
How powerful I feel then, how abject my foes,
how full of light the rounded world, a bursting peach,
until the ring my father set around my head
tightens and digs into my flesh, my skull. I roll
and tumble through the seven worlds but not the ring.
All of my reach contracts into a burning hole.
I cry, “Mercy!” and hear the fox squeal in my ears,
and hiss like the snake as my voice is squeezed out.
Just before the spot of consciousness disappears,
the ring unclenches iron and without a word
I know, bitterly, I have the Scriptures in my head.