Monday, November 20, 2006

Two Poems: Jennifer Hill-Kaucher

The Alphabet Backward

Soon snow will cover everything
and the body will forget
the bruise of spring, melted wax
of summer. The world slings
into itself, cuts its grooves – an almanac.
Soon snow will cover everything –
fenceposts wear hats, trees are furred
in white – the landscape reversed as a layette.
Memory falls to collect at the feet in a blur
and the body will forget.

* * *

Lovely Boat

A girl folds a red lotus, centers a candle
and floats it downstream. As it passes the bridge
a man with a net scoops it out. This is tourism
in China. She has creased hundreds of prows,
but never diced a sheet for confetti to throw,
or to tuck into an envelope with a letter.

In Philadelphia’s Chinatown, my daughter and I
sit under the gold dragon at a restaurant
where shrimp crawl and curl their last in a tank
by the door. The instructions for the Jongie Nara
“Lovely Boat” origami are all in Chinese.
We puzzle it out through the images and laugh –
Start with a rectangle, turn it into a tricorner hat
and bend, twist, writhe? Our wonton soup
grows cold. When our first boat forms,
a shiny blue miniature among the gargantuan
tassels and murals of spring, I want to find a river
and let her watch the water whisk it away, too fast
for any hands to catch.

~ Jennifer Hill-Kaucher is the author of four books of poetry: “Questioning Walls Open,” from Foothills Publishing in 2001, “Nightcrown,” a crown of sonnets in a limited edition lotus book in 2003, “Book of Days,” from FootHills Publishing, 2005 and "A Proper Dress," 2006. Her previous poem in ETR appeared here. She also edits Paper Kite Press.

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