THREE POEMS Jane Wong
Succession of the verb to fall: to have fallen, felled,
felt. I covered my ears from the footsteps, the cascading
water over my head. It engulfed even my
name. My body turned to collect
muteness. In the back of my head: sleep of small doubts
conversing. To carry doubt, I bent like a heron. To cut a story short, I revealed a dark
fact: everything is as true as you want it to be. My grandfather tells me
about seeing a phoenix but his face is hidden under
a plume of smoke. When I was young, I thought I would have a monument
of my own. I liked the idea of people sweeping flowers across my feet, as if remembering
in sleep before the heart
Day of the cold, day of the useless
index. Haec vituperare, I felt
fallen. The forlorn diorama of birds circling above. My family
in a crowded restaurant, punctuating the air. Could anyone feel
so remote? My father pulls a salvaged cabinet from the road side and leaves it in the yard to say
this is ours now
So having died, I woke: a monumental
fever in the yard. Embodiment of the wind in all its burning
leaves. I slept, I crept
closer to usefulness. And still, my incomplete
metamorphosis. Half-heron, half-
cabinet. Moss growing through wings, doors. The heavens
open. All around, trees rising
exponentially. Apologetic, these shadows of excess
In the portrait above the mantel, my face is turned to the side
It had a place in the cabinet.
I placed it beside the flour and it grew,
an eager mold of this house.
I cracked an egg and stirred it.
But this was not a matter of chemistry.
It said, you can not cook with beakers.
The moon, it was not a moon. It shone
like I needed a coat.
It held doors open for me.
Do not hold doors open for me.
I took it to the lake and gave it a good washing.
The hair rose on its back. Electric
eel, a hunter's organ. Was it ever
kind? Was I ever kind?
In flood plains, in a bad cough
on a broken-down bus. I fanned my face
and argued. It emptied a bag of flour
into me. I could not stop it.
That winter, the spiders stuck
in the heater simply burned.
PORTRAIT OF LIES
To see history gone into air, I feel too young
Am I supposed to feel afraid? Sunflowers floating to sea.
There is no measure for guilt except your hands
behind your back. Guilt is no different from the overturned frog my brother
hit with a rock to see what would happen. The hemispheres
kept oscillating. The world stayed intact. I kept shouting my secrets into a corner everyone kept
forgetting. On principle. "For the fun of it." So what if I invited a monster into my home. If I let my own
heart testify against
myself? According to the ancient Egyptians, the soul is located in the heart. When someone died,
they cleared out all the organs and left the heart. They included talismans to keep the heart from espousing
the cruelty it's capable of
I wander around, embracing arrhythmia. My words settling
We are never as honest as the cells we carry