Alison Hicks' work has appeared in Eclipse, The Ledge, Main Street
Rag, Pearl, Peregrine, and other journals. She published a chapbook,
Falling Dreams (Finishing Line Press, 2006), and her novella, Love: A
Story of Images (AWA Press, 2004), was a finalist in the 1999 Quarterly
West Novella Competition. A two-time recipient of Pennsylvania
Council on the Arts fellowships, she founded the Greater Philadelphia
Wordshop Studio, offering community-based creative writing workshops.
Mandarin and Mint
The mandarin in the garden of mint
Walks invisible inside the mist.
His beard the droopy cypress bough,
Hands bear pear and apricot.
Mint of fragrance,
Wind across mind's full bay,
Shaking of the peacock's tail, bracelet on a wrist,
None distract the mandarin from his work.
Beyond the mint, a well of crumpled things,
Gourds distended on onion snow.
The mandarin eats his apricot,
Spits the seed out on the earth.
The tree it grows bears yellow pears.
The mandarin stops to stroke his beard.
And mist falls over gardens of mint.
Bring hands to the table
Smooth pine surface of the table.
Straight corners, sturdy legs
Hold up the roof of table.
Bring leaves and steaming water
The heavy mug placed on the table.
What scalds the hands or throat
Is held by mug and table.
Books with thumbed-back corners
Turned-down cards spread across the table.
Whatever your dish or your poor cook's skill,
Bring it to the table.
The milky yolk
Spreading across tongue's table,
The whole steamed fish, opaque eye intact,
Dumplings in their doughy houses, all called to table.
You are a bowl
Filling with dust that falls on tables.
Alison turn your palms
Upward on table.
After Reading Chekhov
I am trying to tell a story
but a plot does not present itself
only the feeling behind the breastbone
only the grief.
a woman loved a man
who loved someone else.
Later he married and his wife grew ill,
so he felt he never lived.
And the woman
who knows herself fortunate
thinks of endings
where thwarted lovers clasp
at what has failed to be chosen
as she makes love with her husband,
and the words he has said to her,
not unkindly, in response:
You'll never find what you want.
I lost you on the downside,
your voice dipped, the line crackled,
you moved your mouth away.
I pressed the cell to my ear:
more clear the pops,
milky silence we breathe.
Things I can't ask to be repeated
flow off into night, orbit.
Someone listening, that woman or man
with no connection to you,
might hear what I did not.
Surrounded by those who think they want to die,
you live your pained life.
Story I hear and miss.
I blow words through the mouthpiece, imagining lips.
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