Mother, you pick up after me. Every hair
that has fallen from my head, left behind
like ancestral tablets
when running west, your old name, the taste
of hunger, inheritance. Almost the size
of a baby, made entirely of me — dead
hair all over the house. So much of it
you could have run it through your singer
and made a fur coat. Or a blanket
at the very least. You kill yourself
in this way, she says to me,
Don’t you know it’s eating you
from the inside? Draining what sustenance
you make from snow fungus, lotus
seed, goji berry. Mother, drink with me.
You have given up painting, spend your days
stitching American jeans. Do you dream
of passing the days in the orchard again? Making
the color orange from persimmon, painting
the fat goldfish that live in the old well?
Remember that old house, first house,
where we slept on an open porch, lived
off of the goodwill of other people, ate
whatever fruit fell.
You could make something out of whatever
dirt we landed on, could have made
elixir from moonlight.
Mother pick up the brush again, untangle
my hair, pot it with angelica root, ginseng
and honey date for sweetness. No,
we will not leave this world hungry.
Mother, I pluck at the world with my silvery legs,
make the poem for you —
spidernest on my head that I swallow every night
to remake in the morning. All I want
is to wake up in this world and weave.
Joanna Ng is a poet from Fresno, California. She received her BA and MA in English from the University of California, Davis. She is currently an MFA student at the University of Mississippi. She writes poems about the junction of language, labor and place, and the ghosts that live in those spaces. She writes poems to speak to the dead.