There is one species of woundedness
I’d rather not be lifted from —
think hands cupped like a chalice
just to hold the sting and
shimmer of seawater, then the hands
slowly disappearing until
the water falls back into the sea —
because the pain, or what
initially felt like pain but turned out
to be just shadows that grief
could cast, was unbearable, or simply
because it was mine and
therefore harder to cast aside. Enough
of this suffering, you buried her
with your own hands, remember how
you tried to counsel me, being
the wiser of us two, as if words
alone should suffice to put
an end to all that unravelling. Rescued
or ruined, shattered or intact.
It hardly matters to anyone else now.
Like what blurred by my window
this morning that I’d failed to save
from the looming thunderstorm
(was it an oriole or saffron finch?) — what
sought refuge from endless
wandering though I turned it away — I still
mourn, stroking the underwings
of a memory in whose fine details
of feathering I keep getting lost.
Then the skies clear, the fog finally lifting
like the veils off of the faces
hidden behind history. All that light, folding
and unfolding, like ceremonial robes.
William Henry Fox Talbot. [Wild Fennel], 1841-42. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Gavin Yuan Gao is a genderqueer immigrant poet of Chinese descent. They hold a BA in English and Creative Writing from The University of Michigan and are a student in Cornell University’s MFA program. Their work has appeared in New England Review, The Cincinnati Review, The Journal, Waxwing, Poet Lore, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere.