BY HUA XI
– after Snehal Vadher
By the time I find the word for it,
the other words have gone.
The drowning have changed back into water.
The birds have been replaced by sky.
And the skies have gone and sent you
their cards, their boxed cigarettes and flowers,
but your mouth has gone missing from the pages.
And I look up from the passage to find
everywhere a blooming, misshapen backdrop
with your craggy, penciled details.
And I am back, unable to read,
on the kitchen floor,
sprawled with newspaper and red marker,
where you taught me
the language we would fold
into a paper boat
and row. Only
I no longer know how to speak.
The speaking has scattered
deer-like into the dark, where our eyes
flee one by one, like grains of yellow pollen,
and the wind has gone out like a candle.
You look down at your wrist to find
time has become a single white bone.
And my bones have floated away
like your bones, into massive holes above the landscape,
where you cannot hear their small voices. They begin
forgetting the names they were given, so we give them
more but there are no more page numbers
to tell you how far,
and there are no more characters you can scrawl across a blackboard
for 霜, weddings, straw hats, fields of 鹤, 花, hyacinths,
the things that go on being beautiful without you.
BY HUA XI
– after Carlo Rovelli
In the aftermath
I came upon a great stone slag,
jutting wildly from the earth,
a wonderful shadow.
A kiss is like a stone. It is still there tomorrow.
Maybe people you love are far away tonight.
Maybe a large wind swallows the light posts.
One world devours the other.
This world is endless. You call
many things by the name of ‘goodbye’.
There are nightscapes,
reminding your voice
where it does not belong.
There is no destination,
only stations. For centuries, in snow.
You give in and un-speak your own name.
Imagine un-speaking your face, why is it
a torn bandage, Kabuki theater. It must be
someone else’s face.
You stroll past a dictionary
whose lights are still on,
and admire the couple outlined
wordlessly by a gas lamp.
A statue in the maze
you come upon
then cannot find again.
Somehow, you grow lonelier
than the world that contains you.
That is why you so
want to be touched.