"But as you look up and inhale the intoxicating smoke from your tobacco, can you spare a thought for those scrambling to find a way out of this nest of scorpions?"

- Xu Guangping, in her first letter to Lu Xun, 1925


Lu Xun, your hands

that you clasp behind your back,

across the black silk

of your scholar's dress. My eyes trace the length

of your fingers encircling your wrist. Tonight,

Lu Xun, your hands will drag

their heavy, eloquent path across

my milk-white skin. Your mouth will cease

to form words like liberty, ideology,

and compassion but will instead silently

enclose the peach blossoms

of my breasts


Lu Xun, your hands are the instruments

through which you conduct

your desires. In the morning, your fingers are pale

and controlled, your brush hovers

then descends upon the undulating sheets

of rice paper. My eyes follow only

each stroke. Your thoughts unfold before me, beginning

at the moss-green rocks. They linger

in the shade of the toothpick pavilion, beneath

its heavy jade tiles. They form a blood-red,

half-moon bridge


across the rush of river

fed by the waterfall whose origin lies

in the death-grey mountains. Lu Xun,

your hands warm the wood of the pipe

that I fill. My fingers, deft like birds

in flight, strike a match-soldier. Provoked,

it flares orange and ash. Dragon,

you exhale whole curlicues of cloud. Words

slumbering in my mind's recesses

now go up in smoke. They too know

that I am in heaven, Lu Xun,

for your hands


First published in Meanjin Volume 69 Issue 1 (Feb 2010)