Pendant

- by Joyce Chng -

The pendant hangs between
My breasts,
An heirloom, a precious relic:
“Grandmother, I am not worthy!”
I protested, trying to reject it,
Push it away.
My line.
My mothers.
My grandmothers.
My family.

“You are our last,”
Grandmother whispered,
And she glittered in the setting suns, A glowing seraph
Beyond her time.

The setting suns would set
Eventually—and my grandmother
Would go, past the veil
Into the worlds-that-I-cannot-enter.
The ships would leave
Eventually—and I would be
Left alone, bearer of the pendant
Last of her kind.
Last of its kind.

“Why me?”
And I wanted to flee, run
Away to the crystal hills.
“Because you are loved,”
Grandmother said.
And I am the last, I thought,
Bearer of the histories, of the blood.

When they came, I was
Ready, my pendant between my breasts
And my hearts pumping courage,
The mothers in me singing
My song.

My line.
My mothers.
My grandmothers.
My family.

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“Give it to us!”
Oh they had angry voices
And their maws were always
Hungry.
Not my voice, not my people, not
Me
.

I fled toward the crystal hills
Where I cried and the singing
Crystals cried with me.
The pendant sobbed.
I sobbed.

“Give it to us!”
Oh they had angry voices
And their maws were always
Greedy.

Not my voice, not my people, not
Me
.

My line.
My mothers.
My grandmothers. 

My family.

Now the setting suns roar,
As my ship heads toward them,
Two balls of fire,
The souls of my people.
I am ready.

The pendant hangs between
My breasts—
And I finally understand
Grandmother’s words.

© 2019 by Joyce Chng


Joyce Chng lives in Singapore. Their fiction has appeared in The Apex Book of World SF II, We See A Different Frontier, Cranky Ladies of History, and Accessing The Future. Joyce also co-edited THE SEA IS OURS: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia with Jaymee Goh. Their recent space opera novels deal with wolf clans (Starfang: Rise of the Clan) and vineyards (Water into Wine), respectively. They also write speculative poetry with recent ones in Rambutan Literary and Uncanny Magazine. Occasionally, they wrangle article editing at Strange Horizons and manage Umbel & Panicle, a poetry journal and ezine about and for plants and botany (which they also founded). Alter-ego J. Damask writes about werewolves in Singapore. You can find them at http://awolfstale.wordpress.com and @jolantru@jolantru on Twitter. (Pronouns: she/her, they/their).