That bottle gourd, only saved to carry water
For sister’s many agues, lay sideways, empty,
Shelfed after death. Our mother’s befuddled
Mind couldn’t clasp black skirts or the casket.
The Andon lamp, too, went out, gone unlit, no
Bamboo, wood, paper, or filament intended to
Ever catch fire again versus cold, sorrow, plus
Elongated twinklings of distressed inhalations.
Only our jingoist neighbor, that horrific posset,
Remained ready to incline across verandas, to
Interfere in family choices, to intervene where
Money trees, fish, cabbage, & lucky cats failed.
He rolled us inedible fruits with hard skins, not
Akenes, bananas, pumpkin; just strange sprouts
Lacking auspicious knots, lost pinyin; xi, he, ji,
Lu, dragons. Blank pods for our hapless sibling.
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature, once for the Million Writers Award, once for The Best of the Net, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. She flies the galaxy in search of assistant bank managers, runs with a prickle of rabid (imaginary) hedgehogs, and attempts to matchmake words like “balderdash” and “xylophone.”