Tell me when she dies, he says.
Tell me when the prisoner breathes her last.
I will scream her name from the rooftops and
spray-paint her likeness on every wall;
light a candle in her honor,
engrave her parting words onto every front page.
I will be her architect
and rebuild a dust-streaked life from the broken temple of her past—
beam by beam and dignity by dignity.
But until she dies, there’s nothing much I can do for the poor thing.
Call me when your city falls, she says.
Call me when tanks rumble across your bridges
and the cracks between the stones are red-black stained.
I will taxidermize the first bullet fired
when the dead litter your streets,
tie a ribbon of sunlight around my wrist
when your children are hunted down for sport,
and preserve the cartography of your once-bright ruin
after the last good person has fled from crumbling towers.
But until your city falls, it’s just not much of a story to tell.
Ewen Ma is a speculative fiction writer-poet, theatre deviser, and lapsed film and visual cultures researcher made in Hong Kong. They are a 2018 graduate of Clarion West, and their work was shortlisted for the Future Worlds Prize in 2020. Ewen’s work can be found or are forthcoming in Uncanny, Fusion Fragment, Anathema, and Apparition Lit, among other places. Ewen currently lives and works in London. Catch Ewen online at www.ewenma.com or @awenigma.