Angela Qian | Poetry

CATALOG OF STAINS AND SCARS (2017)

Vertical knick above right ankle, shaving cut.

Finger fleck from opening a can of mackerel.

Unknown brown wrist wrinkle, possibly from bug bite.

The splotch on my knee from running across the street in
Ebisu, May rain and cheap sandals, no-grip soles,
wet asphalt, falling. Seeing a friend from four years
past.

The pucker on my upper ear where a piercing closed up.

Almost-freckle from an oil spatter, on neck.

And in the vein of cooking accidents, the burn outline
by my bracelet of Tibetan beads, where I carelessly knocked
a pan of grilled cheese.

A couple white skid marks, older.

The pink site of the knife accident after a bad day at the chicken bar—
Good luck wearing short sleeves. Hydroquinone no use.

A blank space on my back where a lion will go.

An ambiguous small line bisecting the upper shoulder.

Alas, my knuckles are all healed over from karate.

Who knows how the body chooses to keep
and to discard.

.

.

MOTHER

An orange tree garden,
…………………..a welling spoon—
You, what I wished you were,
filling what’s open…………….like light.

Mother, you almost fit into the wounded spaces.
All the years dreamt on the edge of closeness:
Tuna salad at a sunlit cafe,
calling from an empty room in Chicago.
On my twentieth birthday you sent flowers.
I watered them until they could not
be saved—
………a fistful of white hydrangeas.

Throwing them away, I remembered:
………an economy of happiness.
………You taught not to mourn what has been enjoyed.
Mother, you still hold my wrist when we cross the street.
In France I saw your ankles, thin and too weak.

We stood in the garden of the Musee D’Orsay.
Light filled the walk to where we couldn’t see.

Angela F. Qian has published work in Catapult, The Common, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions and elsewhere, and is the recipient of honors from the Norman Mailer Foundation. Her website can be found at a-qian.me.

2018-12-30T11:57:11-04:00