Winter 2008

Table of Contents - Vol. IV, No. 4


Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

John Grey


Mekong Mothers

They don't worry about aging.
So their skin turns to cow hide,
and their teeth are brown stumps,
and their speech competes for cackle
with the chickens at their feet.

Their daughters are still beautiful of course,
trusting what the sun gives,
splashing in a river slow
as the water buffalo that trudge
against its current.

There's a strength to the mothers though
that their frames belie.
They haul logs, build fires with heavy stones,
carry three babies at a time.
At their age, muscle is nothing but the will
like loveliness is anything they're thanked for.



There's three men in the wooden boat,
mid-lake, but I can only count the two.
Their vessel's calm as a hound at heal,
the visibility so clear, the landscape
bows to any eye that aims in its direction,

and yet, I swear, no matter how I add,
subtract, one man of three can't separate
from his companions. Should I shout,
"How many of you are there!" But no,
why disturb the swimmers in the shadow

of the swinging tire. There are six of them
I've heard, enjoying themselves on such
a peerless afternoon but, when the splashing stops,
only four young bobbing heads are spied by me.
And the hunters return, a triumphant haul yes,

but absent one. And, on the baseball field,
since when does nine make an eleven, and why
do the crowd cheer them on as if there's
no one missing. And what's a crowd anyhow but
how loud the noise that drowns out the lost voices.


© John Grey



Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

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