July 30, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Four poems by Karen An-hwei Lee

1 min read

1.

THIS DETOUR WAS A SEA OF DYNAMITE

I dreamed a young widow could not eat
out of sadness, a fractured coccyx,
and a broken marriage,
not even a blood orange sliced by her son
who called it good. She confided in exile,
before I married war          I was a teacher.

Fire out of the debris field of a crash,
I raised two children myself —
son and daughter
and a mynah bird
who flew to my pulse
where lines spelled loneliness.

My daughter was a girl who wore a shawl
of raging nightmares
dying of malnutrition
three years in a war camp,
                  post-trauma.

This detour was a sea of dynamite
so I never returned
in flowering gathers or drapery,
lace or taffeta                     asymmetry
where I mend this unfixed light,
where war, all the wars to come
are never post-

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