Su-Yee Lin (b. 1987) is a Brooklyn-based artist born in New York. Lin writes magical-realist fiction. Her work has been published in The Offing (2016); NANO Fiction (2016); Electric Literature (2015); and Fairy Tale Review (2014). Her residencies and awards include a Fulbright Fellowship, Hangzhou, China (2012); The Center of Fiction’s Emerging Writers Fellowship, New York, NY (2014); Writers OMI at Ledig House residency, Omi International Arts Center, Ghent, New York (2014); and Swatch Art Peace Hotel residency, Shanghai, China (2015). Lin holds a B.A from Brown University and an M.F.A from University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Artist

WHITE SNAKE, GREEN SNAKE by Su-Yee Lin

The grass that covers the hill pricks us with two pronged seeds, dagger-like, and the path is stone and long- fingered grass. We weave through alleys with broken glass atop walls. The secret garden is a hill of tea, flowers fallen, but the haze makes the city hard to see. Next door, a pharmaceutical company, all big-barreled wind turbines and the smell of nail polish. Climb the brick well, feet on rusted rings, and feel like you’re on top of the world.

*
S—you called me, then S—again but different and I said, I have three names and they are all S—because

language is not a barrier, it is just a means and there are things that can be communicated beyond the sounds coming from our mouths. On another mountain top, the stairs ran straight and wide but we ran up the mountainside because that’s what you thought I’d meant and it was. Point out the lake which looks like just another mountain hiding behind the city’s skyscrapers and tell me what why where.

*
By the lake, you tell me the story of white snake. We peer down into the glossy green water of the west lake and

then across to the mountains of that long-fallen temple. We look for the sideways walking of crabs. You tell me what the story means to the people here, to you and maybe to me. A love story between a man and a snake, between the human and the magical. But I think white snake, green snake.