First Snowfall

(for Po Chü-i)

 

Dear old soul, ailing Tang dynasty

friend, sun lost and found among passing clouds

like a child glimpsed in a river

 

of overcoats. Your diminished brightness

lets me look like a child

upon nakedness. I’ll always remember this

 

as the autumn I pulled a thousand acorns

out of my year-old’s mouth.

Fingers numb as willow shoots, you say.

 

I prefer think of mine as a statuary

of blood. It’s hard for me too, imagining

myself with terminal cancer,

 

which is why I make it my mantra, glioblastoma,

glioblastoma, the way you do dharma.

But there are worse demons to be left with

 

than poetry. Hovering around zero.

Snow’s supposed to fall as temperatures rise.

Even when I write down my dreams

 

on the toilet at midnight, they dissolve

like snowflakes in the cradle

flat of my hand.

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