– Tung-Hui Hu –
By custom, we come
last, when grapes are souring
to wine, to gather what is
about to rot. But when we arrived
was the world already in pieces,
everyone to be used up,
taken? Remember my mother
stripping the funeral wreaths,
thinking the dead are dead,
let us keep for a few more days
And now it’s almost night. I boil eggs,
roll a warm one slowly
down your back
and it comes to a stop. I say to you
when bodies are brittle as lampshades
worn out by light, you are thought of,
tenderly, by others.
So many ways to ruin,
most filled with joy.
From HOW TO CALL BACK
Don’t mumble. Speak clearly:
Parliament of the missing.
Not the cemetery where you once listened against headstones.
Not aboard a ship or an island,
No weapons left out on the porch: no pitchforks, no guns.
Nothing loose, nothing heavy, no rocks out of place.
Not against, not again, not final,
Not yet. Just a clean, well-watered place at the side of the road,
a suburb lined with elm trees, verdant from the sun.
“Somewhere in between Paris and Alençon,
a half-drunk barber used to invite soldiers who were passing
on the road to come and have a free shave in his shop”
How thin the walls are
between belonging and not belonging,
a drum stretched across
so much space. One hears echoing
on the street. Children dress
up like us and chase
each other with guns.
And when they press their ears against me
on the other side the birds do
not sing and the dogs do not
bark in my language.