two poems

Wisteria Deng


The Parting Glass

Lighted trees along the boulevard separate
a city into halves, like parting lips mumbling
a tentative goodbye. 

That’s the sight of festivals: a lighted town,
midnight sun. Someone breaks a crystal
snowball. The water flooded
every rooftop, seeping into children’s dreams, wetting
an empty sock.

Look how we mark time. People of the Bronze Age
used knotted string to record events. Now we call
each bow a festival—tie the knot with time.

A few knots back, there stood my father,
lighting candles for a feast. The dampened wick
was trampled by wind, too weak to stall
the parting light.
So that wispy fire in his hand flickered. Sparkles of light
scorched his face for a quivering second before falling
again into the night. 
For a brief second, I saw
his parting lips mumbling something
into the air.


The Ultimate Excuse

We blame shaky hands after breaking
a test tube in chemistry lab. Tell ourselves
it is the strong wind so we cannot run
fast enough. It was the heaviest snowstorm
in a decade: that night we hit a deer.

Our surrounding is a feel-better collection
of escape, the “not-guilty-by-reason-of-humanity”
plea, an exoneration before our next attempt to fuck up.

That’s why when someone turns to ashes,
we say “he is with the stars” 
to overwrite the memory of last touch, cold flesh.

That’s why we look at the night sky
above—each star a lost love, among them
the space of unsaid goodbyes, the last quarrel,
a freshly baked muddle.

And there sits the moon, our ultimate
excuse for fates that wax and wane.
It is a surface of popped pimples, 
the lunatic asylum, a rotted dough.
We need a reason to stall the surgery because
full moon quickens blood flow. Time for someone
to skin a stranger, thrash a wife, perfect
the monthly return
to beast form, eat another mammal.

But beneath the dull plaster hides a conductor
of the celestial choir. Its shape no spacecraft
could capture. Its voice
an impending rupture. 
The multiples of our pain and growth
could not have filled its briefest note.

Wisteria is a senior, double majoring in Psychology and Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in Runestone Journal and RC Review. She is a poet, a mental health practitioner and a daughter.