Issue 22 | Summer 2019

Three Sparrows

Into my bedroom the morning light enters, a slow
majestic brightening blade, and outside the sun,
I know, has risen behind the blinds—
over the beetle-eaten treetops, the brick apartments,
the medical complex to the east where the sick lie,
sleepless or sleeping…And the question, I know,
becomes why. Not why the sun is rising,
for it does so every day—and falls, too, like a stone dropped
in a well, whose ripples you hear after it’s gone.
That is, if you listen.
This is a different sort of inquiry,
the kind I purposely leave incomplete.
When I open the door in the summer
three sparrows, picking crumbs off the threshold,
always scatter in an instant: small, brown,
so quick they are like excited heartbeats.
When I am frightened, my reflex is stillness.
The rest is involuntary: the ears pounding,
the violent trembling, the heat in my neck, my hands.
It is as if I tell the moment: please.
The moment is relentless, does not listen.
In that way it is like the sun.
Or perhaps I am wrong, perhaps the question is not why,
but what: What will happen? and, What do I see?
Once, I saw a girl with a bandaged foot, holding crutches,
struggling up the sidewalk where I waited
(I was always waiting) in the shade, against a wall.
Her family was behind. She hopped, pushed the crutches
against the ground, then in a sudden smooth movement
hit the ground again with her foot. She came up the path,
passed me at the wall; in a breath’s time
had left me behind. It was cold that day,
the sky gray, threatening rain; a wind blew back her hair.
I remember her feet, her body half-suspended,
the way she moved as though unsupported, agile—
the word that flashed suddenly in my mind then,
bright, obvious, like a sharp crystal of light,
                                                   was—well— flying.

Filed under: Poetry

Angela Qian author photo

Angela Qian has published work, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, in The Common, Gay, Catapult, Cosmonauts Avenue, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal and other publications. She has won honors from the Norman Mailer Foundation and curates the Sweet & Sour Readings in New York. Find her on Twitter @anqchan.