Poetry Meme Day #1

I was tagged in a 5-poems-over-5-days meme on Facebook, so I thought I would reproduce the posts here, complete with the intended line indents and breaks.

On Day #1, I pick “Huang He” from my [forthcoming] collection, AND OTHER RIVERS. Because it's one of the first poems (definitely first five, appropriate in this 5 day challenge) I wrote. I like it for how raw it sounds in my ear.

 

HUANG HE

We learned about the river today.                

    Huang He, how it carves a long, fluid line 

through the earth. 

    While I waited, 

I practised telling you 

 

how the river flowed past its banks 

    sometimes. Too many times. 

How they lined it with stone 

    after too many got lost. Led away 

by the river’s cold hands. 

 

I would tell you how the water 

    whipped through man-made forts. 

How villagers fed it incense, live cattle,

    their daughters. 

One each year.

 

Sent out in a raft of silk. 

    Gold-chained. 

Red-veiled. Dowry slippers 

    at their feet. I wanted to ask,

Would you? 

 

So while you bathed, 

    I waited

for you to step out 

    smelling of something sweet, 

a flower I didn’t know the name of. 

    

I sat, listening to the tap run. 

    The steady tick of 

water

    drumming the floor.