sun wu kong: “Descent”
To determine if he had organs he demanded the others look inside
with a shaved tree branch. They got as far as the pale yellow stuff.
The King had to prove his lineage from the stars. They could not believe
in an origin of chaos. It made them hoot and shout and fling scat.
His crown was put into question. Wukong didn’t care. He hated them.
The stars are not alive, he said, they are made of mineral and displaced fire.
I sprouted from a rock like a plant. And that was how the word magic
came to be. I fled from a rock like a red snail.
Very small at first he had to flagellate through blindness
and grow flippers. In a rock pool he spun in circles until he burst and
gained hollowness and that was how lungs came about. His first set were
like the scorpion’s. Book lungs, wheezy as accordions.
Gears stuck, gears broken, now looking for the hurt—the why can’t I
shed fur and sleep in the bare arms of a woman and suckle at her breast—
He had to do everything himself. The dolphins came up to the cove
on the other side of the island and spread their rainbow dreams
beneath him. Why not be like us? Come play with us in our kingdom.
You will not suffer as much as they.
Wolves came, and the mountain lions, great paws shattered loose rock.
They flaunted their dense, multi-chambered aloneness, chugging fast
and hard. Wukong pulled out his fur and pink sprouted on his underskin
and he splashed seawater over them so they gasped and stung.
image by Nick Brandt UK