Jen Schalliol Huang
Solo, Sotto Voce
Beside my upward float and height, you're grounded. Rooted through. I find I am less mass without your constant measure. My troupe the dark, with stars. Elbowed past by the bald moon, continuing his nightly heist. Whistling along and unperturbed, he pilfers slivers from the sun. Favoring one position, then the next. We chart each, or pretend we do, from our tented temple, raised to night. We worship there in sleep, or in a similar asana. If the sun tithes to the moon, we offer back our own fractions enclosed in candlelight. This year, I keep the cycles to myself, and all my cells. I hoard but may not need them after all.
In verbs I ring your unwilling fingers. If nothing else, my language will festoon your bones and muscle. My own strongest is the tongue. But dropping clauses softens like the snow. The words dampen and curl, their edges hemmed and beveled. Your frame, attending, clothed in gravity. Your pulse a code or key. A hammered ode. The fabric hums within me, gives me voice. And I am cradled in the current, stuck and socketed. All alive live on fire. We will burn. What is the cold to any of us now? Aloft, my sky-high I completes the circuit, solitary, stilling speech. Murmur along the last verse of the song, a duet/testament, sung by one.
A vestige hovers near us — bleared, blurred — or is that a trick of our eyes, the tyrants. Switching verbs. Our vision. I know where it belongs, at least. It could be that we're dreaming, heads bowed together. Common prayer. Of baby fears and something selected, streamed by synapses, randomized, chemical. The eye removed itself as by design and slid along the scales. That was it for me. She 'd yell each time there was a storm. Get out. I never learned the science. I still wonder. Happiness, fear thy father. A marriage of opposites, as prescribed. The parents cancel each other, their children smudged accounts. His ink is smeared across my telling and my counting. My prints already criminal. The only way to shake it is to dance. Shake your money-maker. I shook my head no. The similar sounds, the assonance. Collapse the individuals into a unit, make everything portable. Infinity. A trinity. A party, I have nothing to say. A parting gift. A coup fourré. Split apart, refracted. The flammable flowers. Riding a bicycle. Party tricks, Jesus fish. Shame, the rhyming identities. We pierced their ears to tell them apart. We never called it cruel, just a time-saver. Now join hands.
Jen Huang writes: I received my MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and recently left the Second City for Boston. My chapbook, Means of Access, was printed through The Kenyon Review, and my work has appeared in Cimarron Review, The Cincinnati Review, decomP, RHINO, Salt, Your Impossible Voice and elsewhere. I am a two-time Pushcart nominee as well as a consideration for Best New Poets of 2016.