Poem of the Month
A Grip on the Stars

By Gillian Sze and Alison Strumberger

Published on October 4, 2016

I arrive wrapped in typhoon,
blue grey wet blanket
airless and unsettled.

Strips of wallpaper curl an inch a day.
I am adhesive diluted, unable to dry.

When I packed,
I found lost letters behind my bed,
books I never knew I owned.

Leaving is a process of remembering,
a realization that to stay is to lose parts of your mind.

A year the naiad shoulders river,
in a day sheds gills,
surfaces, squints, takes flight.

I have been waiting out of sight, instinctive.
It seems I leave pieces of me wherever I go.

Now the sun shines
in new shades of white.
In its heat, I feel myself changing.

My face under a new season, a new longitude,
I encounter the silhouettes of foreign objects.

Reflected by snow
the sky cradles my impressions,
a new bootprint for each step.

As if even snow were discrepant, disordered, suspect;
as if it were mild, papery, and fell to the sky instead.

I will think: I am here, I am sinless,
I will feast on fresh earth.
I will wake fiercely to the snap-eyed Dawn.

When night wanderers seek out the stars, once more
I will navigate the trail left on the trodden horizon.

My history here is peripheral.
I am a blown blossom caught in a grate,
roots distant, future unmapped.

I cup a lotus in my hands on a subway,
concentrating on balance, my grip on the stars.

my body is the only globe it knows.
I’ve seen my face in its corolla.

Let’s stay like this,
the two of us clutched in sideways motion.

Again the air clears then clings
and memory has become home.
I am sure of few things:

that this building has no number,
that the seasons make us turn.

Even certainty flees
at the beginning of summer
when winter clothes are stored away.

A typhoon dangles from a metal hanger,
still dripping, always waiting to be slipped on.

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