The Rusty Toque | Poetry | Issue 2 | February 27, 2012
I pressed my face to the fence
peered through the boards
until I could no longer see
the dog across the street,
the running engine of the neighbor-boy’s truck,
the half shell of an egg,
not even the moths blended into the tree bark
or the dazzling wings of a dragonfly
caught in a girl’s hair,
nor smell the sting of an under-ripe tomato
newly plucked from the vine.
I’ve seen myself running the distance
limbs all sound and simple matter
and beholding distance’s deceptions,
the run to the stop sign
never being quite as long to get there
as it is to turn around
Here, spread out,
you doled out your love
in careful measures of rice flour
in the dark pungency of aniseeds.
In that four o’clock hour after school
you were all background sounds:
the whack of the screen door
the running faucet
the oil snapping
when the washed broccoli surrendered
a crepitating triumph
when cooking a meal.
One lift of a head from the books
and dinner was ready.
Your pith and purpose, served piping.
TWO MINUTES IN MUAR
A man sprawls across two lawn chairs, sleeps outside his shop.
Backpacks and shirts wall the entrances. Scarves dangle like secrets.
Hangers tug at wires strung along the ceilings.
At a primary school, boys practice lion dance drumming.
The eruptions echo through the barred fence and down the street.
A store, set up on the side of the road, sells twelve-pound pineapples and clams
plucked from the strait.
Coconuts soften yellow from the clouds.
Spilled coffee stains the white mug, pools in the saucer.
A small red spoon spoons out nothing from the bottom.
For every bared midriff, a shirt flows somewhere in Muar.
Bougainvilleas are crying the morning of departure.
Last night’s rain trembles from the petals.
The streets already smell of roasted chestnuts.
My goodbye is perfectly round like a candlenut,
sour like calamansi.
I set it on a shard of coconut outside the house
and like a fallen leaf, it roots itself in the fibres,
grows and grows and grows.
GILLIAN SZE'S second book is The Anatomy of Clay (ECW Press, Spring 2011). Her debut poetry collection, Fish Bones (DC Books, 2009), was shortlisted for the 2009 QWF McAuslan First Book Prize. More recently, she received the 2011 3Macs carte blanche prize for her poem, “Like This Together.” She co-founded and co-edits Branch Magazine.