Alligator by Liang Yujing

You see it groveling there on its soft belly, eyes narrowed

into drowsy slits, armored from snout to tail tip. A living

totem, the dragon on earth, and the tiger in waters. Alligator spreads

itself on the outcrop, stock still, sloppy and domestic, letting

rays of afternoon sunshine wobble on its fluted bronze back skin

and warm its cold blood. I’d sneer at those who call it a cold-

blooded killer. Alligator is the best energy saver who knows how to

steal heat from the sun and how to reduce its heartbeats underwater

when hunting is yet to come. It doesn’t kill for fun, as there aren’t

many for them to kill in the rivers floating with oily foams. Alligator

on the outcrop yawns, its briery mouth opening skywards, a ritual

of some old-fashioned religion, a doggish poise in the summer days

to let out extra heat. Its eyes shut, nonchalant to the shrieking humanlike

beings. Chinese ancestors knew it well and frescoed it on the walls

of Dunhuang, conjuring it as the youngest son of the Dragon—

they named it Tuo Dragon, Sow Dragon or Jiao, the Dragon without

horns. Be this true, it’s our brother. Aren’t we Chinese self-styled

offspring of the Dragon? We Cains. Fratricide we’re committing

in this crocodile farm. All the sinners here look gay and glad

to see their brother exhibited, later to be skinned and cut up and stewed

to excite their jaded palate. They dislike the alligator, except

for its skin, which is hard, the guide explains, though not so hard

as shells, shells and guns. Alligator sunning itself on the outcrop

opens its begging eyes where anger smolders, staring at the world,

and weeps. Crocodile tears aren’t always false.

Image by: Kevin Walsh

Born in Changde, China, Liang Yujing completed an MA in American Literature in Wuhan University in 2007. He writes in both English and Chinese. Liang Yujing is now working as an English teacher in Hunan Business College, China. His poetry in English has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, Weyfarers, Peril, Tipton Poetry Journal and Wasafiri.