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The Lantern Festival
Ai Jiang

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). 

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