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The Lantern Festival
Every week on Sundays
we have the Lantern Festival.
As the sun’s light wanes,
we watch as the lanterns
suspended in the sky
from the previous week flicker,
diminish, their bioluminescent bodies
tear, shrouding us in darkness.
Stars wink, beckoning us to release
the new lanterns nestled, cradled,
clutched in our hands, waiting
for us to renew the skies
with our bioengineered source of light.
We gather from different
neighbourhoods and communities,
knowing that somewhere across
the country, across the sea,
our friends from around the globe
will be soon doing the same.
We close our eyes, whispering
into our lanterns the words
that carries our fears and our dreams
and our failures and our hope.
Then we release the paper thin bodies,
living beings that produce dull blue
glows. We see ourselves, we see
each other, through a shared sky
lit with fire that does not burn.
Ai Jiang (she/her) is a Chinese-Canadian writer and an immigrant from Fujian. She is a member of HWA, SFWA, and Codex. Her work can be found in F&SF, The Dark, Uncanny, among others. She is the holder of Odyssey Workshop’s 2022 Fresh Voices Scholarship. Her debut novella Linghun (April 2023) is forthcoming with Dark Matter INK. Find her on Twitter (@AiJiang_) and online (http://aijiang.ca).