|Heroes Congress Issues||Editors' Issues|
|[Issue 1.0]||Section 2: Issue 22|
|Section 1: Issue 21|
I Wanted Only A Little
wanted, I thought, only a little,
two teaspoons of silence—
one for sugar,
one for stirring the wetness.
I wanted a Cairo of silence,
In every hanging garden
mosses and waters.
The directions of silence:
north, west, south, past, future.
It comes through any window
one inch open,
like rain driven sideways.
as a grazing horse does,
one leg to the other.
But a horse sleeping
sleeps with all legs locked.
mall dramas of rain,
like a woman’s sorrows multiplying.
remembering his hands gesturing,
like a mathematician’s in skilled divisions.
She thinks of the mouth she kissed,
the mudflat drawl, so profane, enticing.
anguish toppling, weekly,
into her handkerchief pocket.
She doesn’t garden but sits on the fierce rough steps.
In the fields, horses grazing, black and white.
From recesses, her secret love shimmers recognition.
The sofa cushion’s body language.
She keeps the part of him that loved to dance,
his langorous arms, as she casually gave her virginity.
The rain sees it all,
one flight after another striking the rock.
She wonders if, during the weather,
he still remembers.
(the water crow)
rises from below
through a swarm
and lifts its head
and turns just so
in its eye-ring--
in a scintillant
can’t say that the day smiled on us, or that anything smiled,
As we dared the wet earth in our wet digging clothes.
The late Mrs. Cockburn was in no mood to chat. It was she,
After all, who was being evicted by a cruel remote-control:
A letter sent from Toronto that saw the summer spoilt.
She had just published a good book, her autobiography
That kept her friends straight and her enemies crooked,
But as if the world needed to show a woman of quality
What indifference meant, or how landlords could still be shit,
The letter was not an offer for film rights but a notice to quit.
We approached the bed of agapanthi in a deathly quiet.
What I thought was umbellatus and a big mistake
For the small place where she was headed was, as a matter
Of fact and not any other kind of insufferable organic fact,
A huge clump of the smaller orientalis, sometimes called
Agapanthus mooreanus, and perfect, as I should have
Known. I knew that Mrs. Consuela White was up in Lismore
And would soon be on the phone to me. Mrs. Cockburn
Also knew that, though they were old friends, Mrs White’s chilling
Remarks, her wicked shaudenfreude, could kill African lilies.
omen from the village gather around the well at dawn
washing dishes, clothes, and bedding, and rush back
left by her mother. She washes. An extra plate
a new moon. She counts days. Waits. Will he come again?
grabs a basket and runs. Time now becomes clear,
roadside corn is taller than her body. She wants to watch. The
See him kiss the bride. With her own eyes. With no jealousy. Then
head home, listen to the sound of china breaking into pieces.
Translated from the Chinese by Katie Farris with the author.
mherst College Archives
Library vault unlocked,
our friend the curator picks out a casket
that opens brashly on the lock
of hair: a curl of bright auburn
(“bold, like the Chestnut Burr,”
she’d offered, turning inner
outer, merging husk and kernel).
A banked fire burning.
An urgent yearning, an awful favor
rises . . . I’m dying to ask it.
|JENNIFER KWON DOBBS
Northern Corea Postcard
who led you to this balcony. Don’t cry, she said on the stairs,
They win when they see you cry. So you gaze at a plank
marking the center between north and south. You study the wood’s grain,
its slightly skewed position due to time, and you guess its weight,
how many winters it lay there in the sand witnessing
the same spectacle patrol its length. You want to measure how far
to your father’s house in Seoul, your mother’s house in Daegu
to your hotel in Pyongyang near the Ministry of Commerce—maps
that prove you know the intimate distances that bind your heart here
to the young woman’s standing next to you. Her stoicism is not yours,
yet her advice feels true. They win when you see only tears.
*For Caitlin Kee.
Ivan Sinks into the Honeycomb
fter all his yowls and cajoles,
Ivan has lost his chords
and sinks into the shallows,
into the impressions
of mollusks and seasnails,
hangs his head in his hands
as if he wants to hold on to it.
He knows what I think of him,
the hoarder of things he once was,
the hoarder of memories he has become.
It’s too heavy, he mutters
as if to the spinning minnows
and the jellied eggs of crustaceans
yet to become.
And what of Tatjana, he mumbles
scratching a face in the sand;
the shadow of the wall
now hovers over his skull
like a hive burning alive in honeybees—
as if I had answers,
as if I might become
(when all that’s left is you,
you become everything or nothing).
If only we’d always lived cut-
off on an island, he spits,
sinking into the honeycomb,
drifting far away from me.
Ode to the Red Dress
orget little black anything.
A woman in a black dress
is mourning, no matter where
she goes in sky-high heels
or sweet sashay.
A woman in a red dress
is lighting her skin from
within, sending radiance,
sleek over a slide of curves.
The red dress dances
while the black dress sulks,
the red dress pops its buttons
while the black dress denies
you its zipper, guarding
everything with a smirk,
finite dismissal of a wave.
Beast of a color, transfer
of heat and power, light
blush to quick flame,
the red dress giggles,
unafraid of wine, sweat,
scandals. Take that red dress
out of your closet
and put it on your body
where it belongs,
so your blood can divulge
its secrets. A woman
in a red dress has
no need of secrets,
of shame, of the sour
hurt that could mark
her face like a bruise,
a scar. A woman
in a red dress
is a vice, a crevice,
space you beg to occupy,
empty box now full
now burst from slender glass.