Not so Much When, but How

Unwilling to lose the morbid thread I’d read in those lines, I just had to jot down a note. It had something to do with wondering how—not so much when, but how—I would eventually die. I leaned from the bed, left hand on the chair as the right stretched toward the desk. It was the sort of chair with wheels on it. I leaned on it, reaching for pen and paper, and its wheels glided gently toward the desk. Seeing the hard wood corner of the table draw near right in the center of my field of vision, I mistook it, for the briefest instant, for an epiphany.

Shelly Bryant divides her year between Shanghai and Singapore, working as a teacher, writer, researcher, and student of Chinese language and culture. She is the author of two volumes of poetry, Cyborg Chimera and Under the Ash, and a travel guide to the city of Suzhou entitled Suzhou Basics. Her third volume of poetry, Voices of the Elders, is due out in early 2012, and her travel memoir The End of the Line is slated for release in late 2011. Her current projects include writing an updated guide to the city of Shanghai for Urbanatomy and translating Sheng Keyi’s novel 《北妹》 (Northern Girls) for Penguin Books.

Shelly’s poetry has appeared in journals, magazines, and websites around the world, as well as in several art exhibitions, including dark ’til dawn, Things That Disappear, and Studio White • Exhibition 2011. You can visit her website at

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