Xiaoly Li

A Special Gesture

As if a huge mountain pressed down
hard and harder on my chest
My breathing became a drying stream

I was waiting, waiting for
nothingness to come
forgetting the 18-wheeler truck

My mind tried to escape
I pulled it back into waiting
A shouting voice woke me up

A black woman
in front of my shattered car
gestured me with a prayer pose

My palms pressed together, chanting silently,
“Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum”
I remembered belly breathing

A stream of air filled me—
fully consciousness
The woman left me a lasting warmth


Xiaoly LiXiaoly Li is a poet, photographer and former computer engineer who lives in Massachusetts. Prior to writing poetry, she published stories in a selection of Chinese newspapers. Her photography, which has been shown and sold in galleries in the Boston, often accompanies her poems. He poetry is forthcoming in J Journal and appeared in Off The Coast, and Gravel. She currently studies poetry with Barbara Helfgott Hyett. Xiaoly received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Masters in computer science and engineering from Tsinghua University in China.

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