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The Poems of Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

ae poetryEditor’s note: Tsering Wangmo Dhompa is the author of “My rice tastes like the lake,” “In the Absent Everyday” and “Rules of the House” (all from Apogee Press). “My rice tastes like the lake” was a finalist for the Northern California Independent Bookseller’s Book of the Year Award in 2012. Her non-fiction book on Tibet is forthcoming from Penguin, India in 2013. She recently moved to Santa Cruz where she is pursuing a doctorate in Literature at UC Santa Cruz.




My rice tastes like the lake

It is not everyone’s desire to swim as a fish.

I have a little dog that behaves like a cat,

it is not his fault he cannot pass the discipline test.

A fault line runs through the city center

sullen as a stretch mark under a dress;

we believe our undoing comes from one source.

An escape plan is our solace. There are words,

there are stories we never tell. She said

on the radio, my rice tastes like the lake.

It was a perfect sentence.

 

ae poetry2

History books conflate the idea

of human existence with errors of ethereal

bodies. A gamine girl is a fairy; she’s also poor

in storybooks. A sentimental person understands

narratives have much to do with him (there is no irony

here) as in a child’s game where an eructation for

every blunder is justice. This is before the rules change.

I am doleful when I read a riddle where the frisson

of a feast is warded till the moment

of an acceptance speech. Memory chastens us

to follow the recipe to the last letter

for utmost result. (Sturdy and stocky

are said to outlive the rest of us.)

 

Selvage: For Country

Girls in pink hats peek at a sky woolly

as the head of a cauliflower. Trees are wood;

you said a picture reminds you of the world

and I thought, There he goes again! You meant

shipping containers, borders and civilities of industry.

Perhaps it is no longer necessary to hope. I have you,

time-slayer magician who keeps me longing, if not

distracted recalling places where happy is reflex.

Or happier. Does it matter how I feel? Now intimates a time

or a condensation of acceptance. As though

the plants on my kitchen window have free will.

Someone told me there are babies born without skill

to thrive; I thought of you. I do not believe things happen

for a reason, not always. We are helpless against necessities

where images of time are conjured, not salvaged.

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