THIRD PLACE: Boy with torrential rain on his eyelids

By Lilly Yu

boy with torrential rain on his eyelids last summer-

the tautness of his cheekbones shining in the dark water,

and all I could think was, how could someone look so peaceful while drowning?

I pulled him out from the bridge’s ledge until he coughed the river from his lungs,

trying to see a different shape in the water patterns-

a cluster of lotus leaves, watery angels.


the boy who was a wet bird,

his hair plastered to his skull in dark feathers-

I think the river ran in his veins when he spoke,

rushing out his throat, through his vocal cords.

his voice was the river running in the summer,

against the pour of the monsoon,

along the early mornings and summer nights,

tickling the riverbed and down the waterfalls.


sometimes he held my hand as I climbed the ledge.

he walked along the bridge next to me,

and I was afraid I would slip and fall into the river depths

and the water would drag me down the same way,

because I knew he would follow instead of pulling me out.

on monsoon days we took walks along the river-

he held the large black umbrella, white dots on the edge,

and it moved like a top as he spun it within his hands.

I could see the veins in his arm, moss-green, cerulean-blue,

his white cuticles like a pushed back riverbed during a summer drought.

we didn’t wear rain boots but old sneakers,

sandals that caught water on my toes,

and he caught the dragonflies that came with the flood,

releasing them above the dirty water.


when the rains started to disperse, the last shower rippling

circles into the river, covering the moss,

that morning, when the air was still lingering in his hair,

and the water dripped on grass-stalks,

he left, ascending as the river vaporized under the sun,

and I awoke to the sound of no rain and the smell of dry earth,

barely a puddle on the cement of the ground.


this summer I sit on the ledge,

the rain pelting the umbrella, sheltering my shoulders,

and I am looking for him again, rising from the river,

ready to pull him out of the water, onto the stone of the bridge,

feel the coldness of his torso underneath my hands,

ready to catch a glimpse of the bird-boy

who lived with the monsoon and fell in love with the river,

trying to take her by the waist and whisper his secret in her ear.