Five Sketches on the artist Fay Ku
1. fire blooming
A child's back tattooed
with the stories of her mother.
The child, whose skin will stretch
to make grotesque images
and heat-blurred faces in the fatty lining.
2. earth ripening
She braces herself in the doorway
between her Chinese home and the vast America
outside, as if she feels the approaching
of an earthquake, the continents crashing
violently against each other
a thousand leagues
beneath the ocean.
3. water dormant
When her friends spoke
they sounded like
to her ears that only knew
She couldn't ask them
and she couldn't ask her
who didn't know
she found by wading
sort of path
to understanding things.
4. metal withering
Her father didn't know fairy tales.
When he tucked her in at night
he told her histories of his country's revolution
which held all the horror of a Grimms story
and she watched his mouth remember
which was like an old wound
so it would never heal
without deformity, and she felt
her back itch
as she drifted off to sleep.
5. wood sprouting
She still thinks that trees
look like angels diving head first
into the earth: their beautiful feet,
and wind-torn skirts, suspended and growing
in the air.