JENNY WU


Jenny Wu is an undergraduate at Emory University whose poetry has been published
in storySouth and Mangrove.






Rite of Spring

I.

Dawn, the spaces between the branches are slowly filled with non-color.
The silent telekinesis at work on the planets
Warms up the firmament. The glassblower in his transparent globe.

The poor man supine upon two wooden chairs
Is afloat upon his dreams.
All around, the street swims by like flotsam spectators to a Viking funeral.
Thunderheads flare with life. Things are rising and falling outside,
Nothing is still or without doubt.
The one unwavering truth
Undergoes mitosis.
When the umbrellas open he is there,
Drooling in one padded cell of their memory.

When they are asked the recount the accident they will wonder
How many limbs he had.
"It was windy. Very windy. The wind was picking up dirt.
I could feel the dirt hitting my face, so I closed my eyes.
It was only for a second. And only because it was so windy."


II.

Something was said.
The telephone in the hand crumples into an unsent note.
Soon we hear a block of emotion pressing down keys on a piano.

Farther yet, oil rigs turn their keys in the secret box of earth—
When the storm passes she will roll up her stockings, leave the cottage
To check on the white oak. The visitation is brief.
An atmospheric disturbance stirs like a smart caricature leaping
From one grave marker to the next.
Before her father there had been another boy, an infant lost to famine
Who comes now into their dreams as a guest at the dinner table.

Three cups of memory constantly reshuffled,
Always concealing the prized ball.
The con-man adorned in shells and gold-leaf,
A crowd gathering, foreign and mum: when we approached they made a space for us.

She kept a box in the knothole:
Two packs of Pall Malls, a wedding band,
Somebody's underpants, and the orange
That rolled from her grandmother's hand.


III.

"All those beautiful boys and girls
Dancing—
It was satanic."

For a moment rain clings to brambles like strange rosaries.
Thorns cling to bare skin. Details rise up from the wood, contrast is high—
Things are in the midst of growing-into.

Deep in the foliage:
An ear left over from creation.
What we talked about
Got caught in a net and hauled indoors.

She wrote a book in which the plot followed
Some metaphysical rhyme scheme, a rhyme being
An event which recurs, like a planet in retrograde,
With one perhaps essential detail altered.
Her characters are always suffering from déjà vu.


IV.

Still life by Pieter Claesz:
Contemplation.
Skull and nut, nut as Hamlet.

She meets her friend on the bridge,
Where he is shaking the last figments of rain from a green umbrella,
His only prop.
She is teaching him how to write haikus,
Those poems like blocks of wood being whittled.
The conversation reminds him of a train crash he witnessed as a child—
Black refuse tossed from the tracks,
Bitten off from an anonymous torso burning unceremoniously in the distance.
Where was he keeping this memory?

The cancer stops, confused by what it has been creating.
In the foreground, the farmer:
Pecking at the season like the needle of a sewing machine.
The answer is not for us. So it is not what we are looking for.



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