dry drowning

by Emma Chan

after Genshin Impact

If a character runs out of stamina in Genshin Impact while swimming, they will drown, no matter how close the shoreline is.

is this what it’s like to be forgotten? i try to ask, my eyes clawing
          skyward in a desperate attempt to find purchase
                   in the clouds, my prostrate palms filling with water. i wish
          i could say something poetic here about the reflection
of the sun in still water, but the truth is that i’m still
          not a believer in the sun, or in describing things i can’t
                   understand. the truth: the sun looks like a broken wheel
          of cheese. the sun looks like a lifeline
of stars tied too tight. the sun looks so far away today.
          and suddenly the hollow heaviness in my chest is spilling from my lips
                   and my hands are wings and i’m flying like we used to and i’ve found
          you in the wrinkling water of every shoreline. my friend, my
love, you said we’d freeze a bridge into the surface of every light
          -choked stream together, gloss the tip of every wave
                   with slivers of glass. listen: as water solidifies itself
          into ice, it expands, becomes rife with hollow spaces
to hold hurt in, just as you pressed your fingertips to my eyelids
          and told me that i wouldn’t even have to look, wouldn’t have to hear the scream
                   torn from your throat, your hair limp like a halo.
          you said that waking up would be the easy part, compared with falling
asleep. love, how i wish i could tell you i haven’t found anything
          worth living for. i wish that watching a sun-splintered body
                   of ice return to what it’s made of didn’t feel
          like drowning. because isn’t drowning just remembering
how to let the water hold you like it owes you
          nothing less? because isn’t it no longer loneliness if you’re surrounded
                   by the water’s soft touch? which is to say it’s no longer a world
          worth keeping without you in it? look: i am letting the fervor
of flight drain from my fingertips, letting the horizon of the shoreline
          slice itself into feathers of light. my love, the mirage of the sun
                   is always closer than the star itself. and i am so tired of being cold.