by Jamies Wang
michael ward being a babe on the 1951 everest reconnaissance mission and preparing to troll the world with his yeti ‘discovery’
We don’t fall in love: it rises through us
the way that certain music does –
whether a symphony or ballad –
and it is sepia-colored,
like split tea that inches up
the tiny tube-like gaps inside
a cube of sugar lying in a cup.
Yes, love’s like that: just when we least
needed or expected it
a part of us dips into it
by chance or mishap and it seeps
through our capillaries, it clings
inside the chambers of the heart.
We’re victims, we say: mere vessels,
drinking the vanilla scent
of this one’s skin, the lustre
of another’s eyes so skilfully
darkened with bistre. And whatever
damage might result we’re not
to blame for it: love is an autocrat
and won’t be disobeyed.
Sometime we manage
to convince ourselves of that.
Fear of Happiness
Looking back, it’s something I’ve always had:
As a kid, it was a glass-floored elevator
I crouched at the bottom of, my eyes squinched tight,
Or staircase whose gaps I was afraid I’d slip through,
Though someone always said I’d be all right—
Just don’t look down or See, it’s not so bad
(The nothing rising underfoot). Then later
The high-dive at the pool, the tree-house perch,
Ferris wheels, balconies, cliffs, a penthouse view,
The merest thought of airplanes. You can call
It a fear of heights, a horror of the deep;
But it isn’t the unfathomable fall
That makes me giddy, makes my stomach lurch,
It’s that the ledge itself invents the leap.
With one burning hand she held his and with the other she kept pushing him away.
Gustav Klimt, Fir Forest I, 1901
What starts things
are the accidents behind the eyes
touched off by, say, the missing cheekbone
of a woman who might have been beautiful
it is thinking about
your transplanted life-line going places
in someone else’s palm, or the suicidal games
your mind plays with the edge
of old wounds, or something
you couldn’t share with your lover
there are no endings
people die between birthdays and go on for years;
what stops things for a moment
are the words you’ve found for the last bit of light
you think there is
Frying Trout While DrunkMother is drinking to forget a man
who could fill the woods with invitations:
come with me he whispered and she went
in his Nash Rambler, its dash
where her knees turned green
in the radium dials of the 50’s.
When I drink it is always 1953,
bacon wilting in the pan on Cook Street
and mother, wrist deep in red water,
laying a trail from the sink
to a glass of gin and back.
She is a beautiful, unlucky woman
in love with a man of lechery so solid
you could build a table on it
and when you did the blues would come to visit.
I remember all of us awkwardly at dinner,
the dark slung across the porch,
and then mother’s dress falling to the floor,
buttons ticking like seeds spit on a plate.
When I drink I am too much like her—
the knife in one hand and the trout
with a belly white as my wrist.
I have loved you all my life
she told him and it was true
in the same way that all her life
she drank, dedicated to the act itself,
she stood at this stove
and with the care of the very drunk
handed him the plate.