Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry
Issue 1 | June 2010

dern, 2

At some time not yet come, Gaw sinks her heels into sand. She is wearing her father’s face, stretched clean, her adversity to comb and starch press. Braced. There is wind. She is walking through the wind. Loam close to loom but sounding like lom, sounding like ], \din/. It is bright. dta wun. Warm enough to remember tropics, wind off the delta mouth. Lips charring above the thirst. She drinks wind, hallowed, the chamber of her breath welling up with cyclone, palate in preparation of an entrance. Gust. Ballooned, her feet weave, calloused ridge of the heel digging in.

Her father’s face is somewhere ashen, forgotten, cemented to silver plates of photographic mercury, long exposed. There had been time to revisit, to learn the shape of medals, to develop, there had been. Chemicals ignited to the cuff, fumbling in the dark, tumbling silver canisters and the softness of film beneath cold water. Pruned skin of fingertips, the sift of dark cartilage. His face fades against her own, sand blasted, worrying down into pores and pock marks. How difficult to divorce his cheekbone, how deep she would have to scrub to wear away dirty linoleum and absentee ballots.

As her heel strikes the ground \din/, the scalloped shapes of her heels mimic occipital, her arch lobed against her father’s oblong medulla. The tops of her feet brush wind beneath loam, a valley of spongy radiation cancered in his temples, petrified into coral. Discarded shells trace the base of his skull, hollowing out the tincture of collapse. This is no scavenge—she has her father’s eyes, this is proven by chronology and unavailable for argument. It is the distance in her far-sightedness that travels from mandible to temporal until they are blown apart. When the water crawled up her sacrum and inched up the ends of her hair, it was her father’s eyes that bore into her back, it was she who no longer believed in his return. Anchor breaking, the wind forced a crash, instigated a split, turned loyalty into open fire.