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Eva Tseng

Four Poems

Ode to a 20-Foot Steinway Concert Grand Piano


Nights awake I think of you
                                            r curious three-legged body, resting
in stately silence, a concert hall

                                                   full! of sound, like a secret with(in you.   Oh
how the vaporous night breeds the most potent of longings!
I can see the sheen of your smooth

                                                          black skin—
I can taste your scent of wood and varnish, intoxicating.
I want to run

my hands along the hard
                                      curves of your body, shameless as the un-
thinking gentleman trailing absent

fingerprints on an auto
                                     show Ferrari—fingerprints soon
to be buffed away by some poor worker

whose task is endless.
I want to throw open all your doors: your polish-
                                                                               ed hood with its magnificent hump,

tinkly strings of steel
                                   maturing to brass, thick and rich.
then the final silence—to be broken gently, like unfolding

                                                                                            hands in prayer.
I’ll pull
              the blanket off your smile with an ardent arc

of the arm, sending red cloth in rippling flight
into a heap
                    off your treble end.  Then I will play you—

though better hands have done it before.
I will tremble
                         with anxiety and desire.  Perhaps

I will only manage an A-flat major chord,
winding from the lowest
                                       lows to their overtones—Chopin’s

notion of amorous disaster.


Uncertainty

Pleased to see you—your hair is ravish-
ing and your fingers delic-
ious.  It’s true I become mawkish
in your absence, dull and bored as a school of gray fish.
Reluctantly I furnish
my life with distractions, devour Miss-
ion burritos while watching the demolit-
ion of sidewalks by small, garish
bulldozers.

                      At night I sh-
ower alone, polish
away lather from skin like the residue of a Danish
pastry, gaze with dismay at my stylish
fingers (their touch not yours)—I extinguish
the spray and crawl into the soft, lavish
cove of my bed, where mostly I lie* awake and wish
you were here, among other thoughts not fit to be publish-
ed.


Inertia: The Kiss

in my dream
         you reach
towards me
         I cannot move
to meet you:
         inertia: the kiss
lights where
         there is no turn-
ing away


*    *    *    *

The girl is on a plane:
this is not unusual, but nearly always difficult.
Ah, the romance of being whisked away!  Miles

into the air with the lilting desire of some bird
whose feathers ruffle with sudden height.
But the loss of gravity is distressing to her now.

She presses her nose into the ridiculous
airplane window.  Her desire is vast
& carnal.  The metal bird that contains her

dips low, teasing, grazes the island lengthwise:
the meaning of the Empire State Building
is not easily mistaken.

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