The crackle of the palm trees
Over the mooned white roofs of the town…
The shining town…
And the tender fumbling of the surf
On the sulphur-yellow beaches
As we sat…a little apart…in the close-pressing night.
The moon hung above us like a golden mango,
And the moist air clung to our faces,
Warm and fragrant as the open mouth of a child
And we watched the out-flung sea
Rolling to the purple edge of the world,
Yet ever back upon itself…
And mooned white memory
Of a tropic sea…
How softly it comes up
Like an ungathered lily.
By: Lola Ridge
The little river twittering in the twilight,
The wan, wondering look of the pale sky,
This is almost bliss.
And everything shut up and gone to sleep,
All the troubles and anxieties and pain
Gone under the twilight.
Only the twilight now, and the soft “Sh!” of the river
That will last forever.
And at last I know my love for you is here,
I can see it all, it is whole like the twilight,
It is large, so large, I could not see it before
Because of the little lights and flickers and interruptions,
Troubles, anxieties, and pains.
You are the call and I am the answer,
You are the wish, and I the fulfillment,
You are the night, and I the day.
What else—it is perfect enough,
It is perfectly complete,
You and I.
Strange, how we suffer in spite of this!
By: D. H. Lawrence
Mama, Come Back
Mama, come back.
Why did you leave
now that I am learning you?
The landlady next door
how she apologizes
for my rough brown skin
to her tenant from Hong Kong
as if I were her daughter,
as if she were you.
How do I say I miss you
your roast loin of pork
more succulent, more tender
than any hotel chef’s?
The fur coat you wanted
making you look like a polar bear
and the mink-trimmed coat
I once surprised you
on Christmas morning.
Mama, how you said “importment”
your gold tooth flashing
an insecurity you dared not bare,
simply as eating noodles
and riding in a motor car
to the supermarket
the movie theater
adorned in your gold and jade
as if all your jewelry
confirmed your identity
a Chinese woman in America.
How you said “you better”
always your last words
glazed through your dark eyes
following me fast as you could
one November evening in New York City
how I thought “Hello, Dolly!”
showed you an America
you never saw.
How your fear of being alone
kept me dutiful in body
resentful in mind.
How my fear of being single
from moving out.
How I begged your forgiveness
after that one big fight
how I wasn’t wrong
but needed you to love me
as warmly as you hugged strangers.
By: Nellie Wong
Don’t do that when you are dead like this, I said,
Arguably still squabbling about the word inarguably.
I haunt Versailles, poring through the markets of the medieval.
Mostly meat to be sold there; mutton hangs
Like laundry pinkened on its line.
And gold!—a chalice with a cure for living in it.
We step over the skirt of an Elizabeth.
Red grapes, a delicacy, each peeled for us—
The vestments of a miniature priest, disrobed.
A sister is an old world sparrow placed in a satin shoe.
The weakling’s saddle is worn down from just too much sad attitude.
No one wants to face the “opaque reality” of herself.
For the life of me.
I was made American. You must consider this.
Whatever suffering is insufferable is punishable by perishable.
In Vienne, the rabbit Maurice is at home in the family cage.
I ache for him, his boredom and his solitude.
On suffering and animals, inarguably, they do.
I miss your heart, my heart.
By: Lucie Brock-Broido
The Ship is Ready
Fare thee well! the ship is ready,
And the breeze is fresh and steady.
Hands are fast the anchor weighing;
High in the air the streamer's playing.
Spread the sails—the waves are swelling
Proudly round thy buoyant dwelling,
Fare thee well! and when at sea,
Think of those, who sigh for thee.
When from land and home receding,
And from hearts, that ache to bleeding,
Think of those behind, who love thee,
While the sun is bright above thee!
Then, as down to ocean glancing,
With the waves his rays are dancing,
Think how long the night will be
To the eyes, that weep for thee.
When the lonely night-watch keeping,
All below thee still and sleeping—
As the needle points the quarter
O'er the wide and trackless water,
Let thy vigils ever find thee
Mindful of the friends behind thee!
Let thy bosom's magnet be
Turned to those, who wake for thee!
When, with slow and gentle motion,
Heaves the bosom of the ocean—
While in peace thy bark is riding,
And the silver moon is gliding
O'er the sky with tranquil splendor,
Where the shining hosts attend her;
Let the brightest visions be
Country, home and friends, to thee!
When the tempest hovers o'er thee,
Danger, wreck and death before thee,
While the sword of fire is gleaming,
Wild the winds, the torrent streaming,
Then, a pious suppliant bending,
Let thy thoughts to heaven ascending
Reach the mercy-seat, to be
Met by prayers that rise for thee!
By: Hannah Flagg Gould