Poetry / November 2007 (Issue 1)


Two Poems

by Arlene Ang

Liu Song Warms Himself By the Fire

Daily he carefully burnishes his sword.
The constable's daughter has graceful arms,
small feet, skin as pale as moon bleeding
through clouds. His tongue becomes a dozen
live eels every time she lowers her eyes.

Flames dance on the blade, semblances
to a figure moving sinuously to heat the wine.
The supper invitation sates more than his
stomach. He and the girl's father were
sworn blood brothers in another village.

His wife always prepares his meals on time
and doesn't approve. The bamboo curtain
door between their rooms chatter from
passing breezes, the sound at night like
a hundred ghosts trapped in the strands.

On the rare times he shares his wife's bed,
she is dried cuttlefish, her bones cut his flesh.
They never speak afterwards, but dress
quickly. And now he grips the hilt of his sword
waiting for the night it becomes her throat.


Six Reasons I Never Write About Home

1.
Geckoes climb walls, their movement
furtive and unchallenged; I've grown afraid
of tongues that curl themselves around the dark.

2.
Once a burglar entered through the bathroom
window. At four a.m. I might as well have
staged a party; the policemen wanted Nescafe.

3.
Books in the library induce sneezes;
pages yellow from humidity. In those days,
I thought dog ears revealed lost places.

4.
Housemaids come and go, like the bark
of stray dogs. Someone has been thieving my
shower gel, the beads on my blue dress.

5.
The faucet is broken again; there are cracks
on the ceiling and fingerprint smudges. I wouldn't
want my analyst noting the tic in my left eye.

6.
On my old desk, the pencil sharpener keeps
breaking the lead; it is late. In the end,
my father says, it's the eraser that counts.

 
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