The Crossing

Isn’t it too late?
I couldn’t help asking myself
time and again. It was too late:
the sun was gone, my chance
had left; there was only one way,
and I’d have no say.

I washed my hands in the stream
and warmed them with my breath;
I saw the water evaporate, and
in the cold the hands turned red.
Then I saw my shadow
on the other side, and knew
I’d left it behind. I must sew
the button back on, I told myself.
But there wasn’t time.

The ferryman said,
How did you manage to do this,
considering, you’ve never done
an apprenticeship?
How, indeed, did I get on
this track, without teacher or help?
So I turned to face him, and,
feeling embarrassed,
whispered but a few words:
“Serendipity took pity on me.”
Waiting for me to continue, he frowned,
and then, knowing I’d run out of words,
raised his left hand.
I bowed, with deep gratitude,
and acquiesced in his plan.



Chin Li’s work is published in Confluence, Glasgow Review of Books, Gnommero, Gutter, Ink Sweat & Tears, Litro and MAP. His audio short story, “The Feather and the Hand”, was broadcast by the Glasgow-based art radio station Radiophrenia on 20 May 2019 (