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Prairie Schooner 80.3 (2006) 26-27
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It's Not Right, and: Quiet Fountain, and: The Room
It's Not RightThe cemetery walls in disrepair,
some markers even toppled by the roving boys
who come at night to damage what they can,
as if to leave some wreckage in their wake.
But it's not right to do this to the dead;
not even stupid idleness should lead them here.
Yet they have come and gone; the day will soon
forget their names; the dead will bear it all
and won't complain, the headstones knocked away.
Quiet FountainI love the guest house on Nguyen Du. I slept
inside the linen net, my windows open wide
to let the spirits in who come to visit
from the lake. I've seen them in a chorus,
their white shapes in the garden where the lotus blossom
has to be content to swirl in
just one place, the fish pond crowded, the quiet fountain
only barely there. I share my room
with geckos on the wall who chirp their discontent –
the lack of bugs, my modern pesticides –
and with a rat who visits when I shower; [End Page 26]
he cleans himself beside me on the floor,
and soon I wash like him, beyond a gaze
that knows there's room for both of us to live.
The RoomI didn't want to ever lose your face,
the way you found me in the darkened room,
my brain an open wound and me not sure
of anything. The gurney wheels brought me
here to you; the morphine freely came,
yet it was more the sweetness of your voice,
the way your hand felt on my brow, the way
you leaned the weight of you against the pull
of other duties waiting down the hall
that eased me back, the anesthesia gone.
Then I awoke, and you no longer there,
and what I wanted has the name of everything:
the brain relieved, the pretty scar, the room
whose dark I lavished in, and you in me.