- Rose Hips
Elegant eyebrows pick up the shadow of thingswell-balanced flavor: sweet and sour. The teacup Japanese,the tea and saucer English. Country-music anthemsnormal life in the fifties way, rightfully assured.Does this winter-morning sunlight warm your desk as well?Separated by one river, a few blocks, desksshoulder to shoulder almost a mirror. You do up your hairto elongate your neck, expose collarbones, seem slimmerfor whom? What else can we discuss besidesboyfriends of different races, a daughter of mixed blood?These things so close to flesh do not leave shadow, yet firmlyblock our vision, as the needle of light trapped inthe soundtrack of time, repeating that nonsensical noteEng Eng Eng Eng Sprinkle on some pepper, and sugar, an appetite uneasy,tender eggs and bread fresh from the oven. What to serve first?The waiter frowns. Desire barks on the street corner, thenflees ahead of the police siren. Where does the horse run? Does it matter?You want to wait to learn to ride until the spring-warm days:boots and hard hat, breeches and flowery scarf throughwild flowers over the hill. I say freedom is only animagination as this tight-fit outfit perfectlyproves. Better not to catch the fantasyfor who can escape the shadow between our legs?So we're pulled, dragged down desperate, table basedark and heavy. Iron. Under the rose, a hip. How to exorcise the doomsday horrorof that giant garland on the window:stuck on a single syllable doesn't allow us to be slender forever, forever [End Page 57] smiling without a shadow. The teacup and saucer near your hand definethe reality of order and the necessity of the weightlessness. Difficult situation: live too long, feel too little.Difficult situation: live too short, feel too much. Yes, we are conflicted, unresolved, unable to escapelike sunlight moves from my desk to yoursbright, yet on the thick leaves of the tulip cast the broken shadows ofpetals. Flower vase stands freely, separated from the sugar jarby an uncrossable distance. We can't handle thingsin front of our eyes, arriving too early or coming too latethough we only want to live in the present, only at thismoment while there are yet shadows. Let's just write, in Chinese or English, use vocabularyin rhyme with life. Those things that lost their shinedo not lose their shadows.Only after the bloom come the tasty hipssuffusing pink memories from the bottom of the cup.Isn't it from the bubbly emotionsteam rises? We can, with our accent, speak clearlyif only of our problems. Repeat, if we mustrepeat. Forget the frivolousness that can't be helped.Maybe only by living through memorythe sentence can steady its soles in the melancholy soil under our desks.
Zhang Er moved to the United States from China in 1986. Her poetry has been published in Taiwan, the PRC, and the émigré community in the U.S. She has also published several chapbooks that have been translated into English, including Winter Garden, Verses on Bird, and The Autumn of Gu Yao.
Bill Ransom is a poet, fiction writer, and native of western Washington, known to some as "The Republic of Cascadia." His poetry has been nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. His short fiction was selected three times for the PEN/NEA Syndicated Fiction Project, and his most recent novel is Jaguar (Wildside Press).