She must speak with him again,
but the telephone is dead.
What's inside a girl?
Blizzard up against the bedroom window,
fear it's him out there
shaking the benevolent glass,
which is one way of saying
a girl thinks about her body.
Boy is her favorite word.
All boys are beautiful.
Can she think what he thinks
and know then that his brain is bright with it?
Inside the house, her family can't help it,
they go on dreaming,
but on the night this world ends
and her father's field grows fat
with tender trees, red fruit dismantling
what she doesn't yet know about lipstick,
she will shine like the sickening moon.
About that boy: he had blood crawling
down his cheek. Mystery of man: his cheek,
she bit it hard, the last part of the first kiss,
he put his hand inside her bang smash—
For a Friend Leaving the Mid-West
By its absence,
the sea is with us,
and although you have come back
from seeing it for the first time,
and it is written that the sky
and the waters were one, once,
this sky is not enough.
Here is the postcard you sent,
boats being leashed to a dock.
Now that you've seen the sea,
I can no longer call you lemon
or little grief.
The snow outside our window is grief,
blue thoughts on the lawns
of the undressed branches,
below the moon and her attendants.
I wanted to be the dawn.
I wanted to be the skirt of dawn
at the mouth of a river,
the bridge above the river,
the smell of horses.
I wanted to be a lemon cut in half
and squeezed on a fish.
I wanted to be the fish, the bones,
little milky bones.
I wanted to be the sea,
cold blue breath of the sea,
the lip, the tongue of the sea,
the spit, the throat,
the legs of the sea.
I'd have been the sea in a glass,
the evening sea, animal sea.
I would have dreamt and drunk.
But I would not have been the sea of me,
would not have been the sea of me.
You left for the coast. You were not a horse.
You left for the coast. You were not a field.
Yes, there were rumors of letters left unwritten,
trunks of dresses that needed pressing,
and a clock you loved who had long elegant hands.
Now all descriptions of the sea must have you standing beside it.
So do not be afraid to touch the sharp and spiny things.
And do not be afraid to drink the salty drink.
Do not be afraid to be blue or green.
And remember the corn that grew tall outside the Amoco.
Lena was a dancer in Mongolia
before she married John
and bought this roach-infested place
I worked at for a week.
I stunk when I got home.
The kitchen was dark and loud and lousy.
I'd deep-fry crabmeat Rangoon in the glossy grease
as the sun bruised us all that summer.
J.'s House of Hunan Knife and Fork:
Buddha underneath the register in a glass case,
crowd of dishes with illustrated blossoms—
used to go there for breakfast with my best friend at the time,
she liked breakfast for dinner.
The wind made us bleak that winter.
We dressed in black.
Imperial Boat, China Garden,
Yen Ching, Easy Place,
Cozy House, Canton, Ko's Kitchen.
And although you were born in Vietnam,
and speak a flawless Spanish, mediocre English,
I call you Little Egg Foo Young.
Take off your glasses.
Take off your garlic and ginger.
Take off your pants
and your very straight hair,
your smell of being conquered,
your smell of being conquered.
Hot and sour mouth.
You bamboo shoot.
I have watched you make a perfect omelet,
put it between bread
and call it "tortilla."
I have watched you with a loaf of bread
on a torn open brown paper bag,
saying, "In Spain, bread is bread."
Most of all you love the olive and the lemon,
the little shrimp in the pan,
curled up, asleep,
but I am the dog in the Chinese horoscope,
loyal and courageous against the new spring flowers.
The sleek handsome waiters
in their white nighttime shirts
and perfect black-sun hair.
Even as a child, I was doused in it. Lust.
And still I go to Chinese restaurants to look for them.
To desire is travel.
O red plastic tablecloth, red table,
O sleek teapot, tea-ocean of many,
O Chinese renditions of Neil Diamond, Leonard Cohen,
red world of my heart!
Aliza Einhorn graduated from the Iowa Writer's Workshop in '95. Her work
has appeared in The Santa Monica Review,
Hayden's Ferry Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Poet Lore, and is
forthcoming in Disquieting Muses and The One Three
Eight. She lives and works in Brooklyn.