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Battered plate, battered life. Plumed reed and paperbark
surround that memorial, certain heirs of late afternoon and evening
drifting like phantoms around that blurred steel lake,
now ancient with new faces, my face lost in that ripple of glass,
ripple that comes to all living things, the realization
that life is not what you expect, and that glorious crown,
charming everyone with heart-struck bedazzle,
may tomorrow just be a faded visage of an earlier hope,
withheld by a greater force, propelling everything.

That tree waits, patiently, for its reincarnation as something,
something, at least, for those cold words on the memorial do not signify
anything about the kind woman who inhabited this place,
or that gentleman, friends with birds and driftwood spears.
It only quotes a name, birth and death date—
but in that little punctuation mark, that tiny indentation of a dash,
a whole life of sorrows, happiness, hopes and fears,
all lost now on the gentle spiraled clouds,
patrolling every speck-person day after day.

In memorial of (insert person)—would they really want that?
What if they detested that dear childish park,
preferred the jazzy pace of mature metropolis life?
I ask parents this; they shake their heads, clearly thinking,
“The girl’s too old for her age.” They shake their heads again,
but I know they have good intentions. They just don’t
understand how I make magical spells, poems, out of mundane things, experiences,
think such profound thoughts about life, death, eternity, and existence.
But, well, that is my existence, to be honest.

I do some research into their lives, with no success,
and find the memorial tree again—the willow still weeping,
its dainty leaves like fallen tears guarding the memorial,
still highly polished, but faded with time and age.
Without thinking, I cup water from the drought-sickened stream,
pour it onto the memorial tree. It still looks sad.
However, the next time I visit it, by an invisible change, it is happy:
the falling leaves are tears of happiness, not sadness,
and a delighted face uttering joyful words floats upwards like a ghost, is gone.

Amber Zhao
Amber Zhao, 10
Brisbane, Australia