we used to watch them sit by the edge of the field at sundown, beneath the branches of the old fir tree,
as the cows dipped their heads into the dirt one final time and laid down to sleep. we watched them follow the cows
with their eyes—those beasts whose bodies rose and fell like tides, who stood stalwart against the wind as it
combed the grasses clean. we used to glance back over our shoulders at the goddess in the sky and wonder
if she had lit those stars to find her wayward daughter or if her daughter had woven the stars and hung them up
for her mother’s delight while she slipped down the mountainside to meet her beloved. we used to wonder
what hopes they had, one with her loom always waiting, warped, in her mother’s palace, the other alone amid
these fields, the sun beating down onto his back each day, his sweat wearing the cloth thin, with only the cows to
listen to his ballads but make no reply. we used to imagine them building a home together in the shadow
of her mother’s mountain and the goddess shielding them from the sun once in a while so they could rest, but
instead, she, in her displeasure, parted their love with the river of heaven and left them to weep on opposite banks
and bring on the floods with their tears. now, we weave them into our legends and hear the magpies call out once a year
to raise a bridge across that river and let the lovers, still bright against a sky of separation, meet over their backs.
Maggie Wang is an undergraduate at the University of Oxford. Her writing has appeared or will appear in K'in, Ruminate, Shards, the Literary Nest, Rigorous, and APIARY, among others. She has also won awards from the Poetry Society, Singapore Unbound, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. When not writing, she enjoys playing the piano and exploring nature.