Reid Mitchell is a New Orleanian currently teaching in Wuxi.
He has published short stories, poems and one novel.
When She Asks Me Which One I Love the Best
Sun: moon: system of light—
a maroon tattoo on my white forearm,
I crave something to cut me.
A pictogram to mark my refusal
to grow old graciously.
Sun: moon: sound.
A mute nation still thinks voiceless thoughts,
but cave folk painting fleeting deer and flinted
arrows and the desperate beauty of the hunt,
succumbed to the delight of sound.
Did the first words they shouted alternate
between "run away" and "come closer"?
And in China, where ideographs fight with
cleavers over who gets to walk which syllable
home, no matter how common she is,
or what tone she takes, every sign
can sound some woman's name.
"Why, that's my name," a friend
I love protested when I proposed
my tattoo. Her name on my body
would be hard to justify. It might even
be a lie. ming: moon: sun: light.
If skin is paper, and it's fiction
I write, let my biceps sport a heart
marked "Shirley." Let people think
that in my youth I dated a "Shoiley,"
and I was one tough motherfucker.
The seamstress under the bridge disappeared
two hours after you brought me there, and
so did her tiny house. "Tomorrow, tomorrow,
or the day after," you cried, but you were as lost
as I was. She picked over my clothes like a ragseller.
"Good duds." She said she had to extract thread from the silk
to mend the suit, the way the doctors moved
my mothers' tendon from little finger to thumb.
While I thought of fairy tales, her full-grown
tiny daughter waved good-bye. Three days later
the hut reappears and I reclaim a coat as smokey
as the pit. "My daughter's work," the seamstress brags.
"Stitches too small to see." I shrug on my coat,
then clutch my side. Your quick hands touch me.
"You're on fire," you whisper.
You feel a rib missing. I groan.
Spring Cannot Be Locked In a Garden
They call me a tasteless old man.
This peach is too green for me.
I count my years in decades.
For me, the trees rarely blossomed.
But if not the fruit, the fragrance
if not the smell, the sight,
if not the bloom, the bud,
if not my sight, then hers.
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