Tuesday Dec 10

LisaLow Lisa Low resides in Chicago, Illinois, where she works in an elementary after school program. She holds a BA in English and an MSEd in elementary teaching, and has lived and studied in the Washington, D.C. area, Houston, TX, and Hong Kong. She is the recipient of recent scholarships to attend the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

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Apartment
 

 
Mucus purrs in my throat. I ask
you again the water to rice
 
ratio, how to angle the lid.
Why don't you find a recipe
 
you say a caving roof. Steam
flowers the vent hood,
 
rasping door knocker no one
answers. I wish for dried scallops
 
and blossomed shiitakes.
Shrimp muscular
 
as cellophane, your frayed
thumbnail. Not speaking
 
is the flower some say while
others speaking is silver.
 
You tell me in Hong Kong
there's not enough countryside
 
for the dead, buried ten years
then cremated. You say Chinese
 
characters are houses
where a man enters
 
certain the floor will hold
him. Your stockpot freckles
 
with stains dark as keyholes.
Chicken bones foam with wood
 
ear and goji berries. I realize
I might not eat for hours. Once
 
I wore your mother's necklace,
a gold stamened flower.






Photograph of My Grandmother, Sunbathing
 
 
The way my father talks you must've wanted
            to play piano too: I imagine
 
your sugared ankles at the pedals, gold
 
shutter of the bench like my grandfather's
            camera. After he snaps, you go on
 
smiling at the ocean, breaking water,
 
beachcombers. Fossils rippling like keys
            where your toes sink. Because music
 
is a kind of drowning, you don't hear
 
the pearl oyster crack open or your grown
            son's mumbling piano. I only see
 
how young you are, how the light loves
            you. My father won't say the rest:
 
gold flower in your mouth. Torn mouth
            of a sugar sack. Lampshades. Your

 
darkened room. What can't disappear in water?


 
 
The Year I Was Born, My Grandfather Died
 
Memory revises me.
—Li-Young Lee, from "Furious Versions"
 
 
Each time you tell the story I am
younger and younger. Soon
 
the back door will unlatch
its flapping moths. Dandelions
 
melting in the valley, our
acre yard without a split-level
 
house. I will be small enough
for my father to lift me from
 
the car, sleeping. I won't know
your father if we go back even
 
this far, after you gave up
incense, its lit and rotting wand.
 



Child Inside a Heart
 
 
Because I am your American daughter
you tell me not to speak.
 
I'm not to give us away
or the seal carver will
 
hike his prices: cinnabar paste,
chops like ornate
 
dollhouses. I don't touch any, not
the stonehearted tiger
 
or dragon marbled as sewer
water. One will bear
 
my name, rock back and forth
like a weeping child.