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Nina powles

Miyazaki bloom


I feel things happening around me that are not real. I must be in a dream, or in a movie, or watching a movie on an airplane in a dream. On the other side of the field there are blossom trees in full bloom. They are pale, barely pink, like branches covered in fake snow. I hear the wind begin to rise and think of how in movies, the wind is always a sound at first. I push my hair out of my eyes and see petals fall from the trees in thick waves like something from a Miyazaki film. The sky is that same imaginary blue. My first thought is not of snow but of volcanic ash, of children shaking white dust out of their hair. I see a layer of white petals on the grass. If the wind kept shaking the trees and the ash flowers kept falling and everything became coated in dust petals they would soon get in our eyes, in our pockets, in our shoes, on our phone screens, on park benches, inside rubbish bins, inside plug sockets, inside our mouths. You belong nowhere in this spring apocalyptic scene—I didn’t build it for you—but soon you are standing next to me looking at me but not straight at me and we are laughing and making handprints in the dust, listening to the wind blow them away. 

The shadows are electric

             Shanghai, 2016

电影 dianying (film; movie)
dian (electric)
ying (shadow)

I always knew the city had veins of light but I had never been inside them. I had never seen the place where light travels. But outside my window there are fluorescent rectangles with curtains moving in them. When I draw them on the page they become mouths. Tiny open mouthfuls of pink light. When we stand beneath the highway, golden bullets stream through the blue air and we try to catch them but we can’t. On the subway, multi-coloured screens flicker in the windows. There are faces and words but I can’t make them out. Still-lit cigarettes glow in the gutters. Bulbs point upwards into the branches of the cherry trees so that the petals look like they would burn you if you touched them. The air smells like smoke even though nothing is actually burning, except in the spaces between buildings where shadows kiss and burst like vessels in the bloodstream. Where there are new colours that disappear instantly after their moment of creation. Where the city breathes light. Where the particles of light break apart and float down and settle on my skin. I carry them with me now.

Nina Powles is the author of the poetry chapbook Girls of the Drift (Seraph Press, 2014) and several poetry zines. She has an MA in Creative Writing and in 2015 won the Biggs Family Prize for Poetry. She currently lives in Shanghai, and writes about food at