When someone dies, do their colours ever truly fade? In this poem, Hong Kong poet Flo Au memorialises her loved one’s passing through the folding of a colourful paper crane.
Japanese mythology tells of the crane that lived for a thousand years, and 千羽鶴 (a thousand origami cranes) symbolises health and life. Legend has it that anyone who manages to fold a thousand origami cranes will be granted eternal happiness and good luck.
by Flo Au
You are colors. I fold a square piece of dark violet paper in half with my sweaty, shaky hands. Open. Fold in half the other way. It is moistened. Her tears. His tears. My tears. The meditation we read said He weeps. Their transparency captures your baby powder face, folly red cheeks and scarlet lips. He said he would help you to catch flying colors. She said she missed your weird jokes of rainbow. They said your blood painted the bleached sheets maroon red. When the tube was out. Open again and turn to another side. Eggshell white. Crease. Like lead, my bulky fingers flatten the flap. Its purple color bruises my fingers blue. Its fluorescent floral pattern tattoos my skin, its ink seeping into the veins, circulating. A thousand years. Live can a crane. They said the number should be a thousand. Raspberry red, persimmon orange, daffodil yellow, citron green, chartreuse green, celestial blue, lavender purple. They will all fly into your raw umber box. Wing to wing. Beak to beak. Tail to tail. Be sewn into your golden dress. Wrap your body warm. She said you read our cards, opened our gifts and smiled to your heart the night before. Fold. Unfold. Crease. Align the edge. Fold. A soggy, wrinkled diamond. Let me tell you a secret: This is my first time. I’m no good at this. Your laughter. Hey gal, I don’t teach arts. I know well when we throw lilies of all colors, when he presses the charcoal button, when your solid brown box is on fire, they will flutter their colored wings, gently rouse you. Lift you up, and up, and up, and up. You are the first biggest, proudest, luckiest crane, leading the thousands to shift in His colors ever.