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Two Poems

Excursion, in the Year of Unmaking

Hoping to descend
from the year of unmaking –

we went, that evening,
for a walk. In the park

there was a house, burnt
in demolition. Don’t

look at it – my mother said. Like trumpets,
the flowers were crowing. The petals,

this evening gold: as the stagnant water
pools like tarpaulin,

ripped taut. Her glassy eyes
drooping. Her wrists

of ripped allergies,
fall risks. The bands. How the dust

spreads, this year
of unmaking. A chorus

therapy-bleached – the pills,
the afternoon kitchen strained,

swirled in dust. She in wisps. She
in curved fading. A ladle,

a pill-knife – as the metal hoarding

grimaces. Her skin strains
its warning. Keep away,

keep away. And another man
slowly turns: his evening that erupts

into welding sparks. The ropes,
the strands fraying. A gaunt harness,

rustled with leaves. He hopes too, to descend.


Visiting My Mother, After a Storm

Walking together the morning after
the storm, we saw a tree, felled

by lightning, now seized
by ropes. Watch out

for deadfall, the sign
cries – as a young boy

grimaces, apologetic: his face
rust-scaled, the acne

of a sign bent, shredded
with the leaves.

Would we all –

you begin. The carcass of the
tree lies covered

in a dew-slathered
sheet – as the green thickens,

pools: the flattened patch
of grass. This dew springs

as mourning. Would we all
be like this. You were told,

when younger:
never to cry. Never

be caught in weakness.
This fear – as your arms

rooted to stems of iron. The men
collect the shards. This wood,

the shattering. How strange

to later see a yellow truck,
a flightless bird: ready, trussed

for devouring. Back later
on morning television – we hear
reports of sudden rains. The floods.

I saw the water clinging –
the beads, the glassy rims:

as the milk of those eyes
bloom like weeds, chased

from their stalks.
Would we all

be like this. Mid-morning, a shadow
overtakes tree, then branch.

Then the ripped leaves. Then no one.

Kan Ren Jie writes poetry and fiction. He currently lives in Shanghai and enjoys looking at trees, growing in busy streets of grey concrete.