May 9, 2016

Jenny Qi

DISSONANCE

The woman is the one who loses
when a relationship ends, warns my father,
my father who had never been with a woman
before he married my mother at twenty-eight
and later made an online dating profile
using a photo taken the day of her funeral
because it was his only recent photo in a suit,
my father who had never been alone
in fifty-four years.

I wonder when he says this if he is thinking
of the man my mother loved before him,
if she told him how it hurt the first time
she knew love could deceive, how
experience blunted her next disappointment.
Or is he thinking of their second decade,
his palm slamming hollowly on the plastic
kitchen table, her threats of divorce empty
except of venom. I wonder if he noticed
the ragged edge in the yellow pages,
long list of attorneys missing. If he knew
about the envelope beneath the mattress,
a thousand dollars in tips folded neatly
over a creamy white business card.

from Rattle #51, Spring 2016
Tribute to Feminist Poets

[download audio]

__________

Jenny Qi: “Trying to explain why I identify as a feminist poet is like trying to explain why I identify as human. Perhaps the most honest explanation is that my mother was the kind of woman who knocked on every door of a university until she got her first job after immigrating to the U.S., and she was the kind of woman who said, ‘If I had raised that friend of yours, he would have grown a spine.’ She was also the kind of woman who worked two shifts and, instead of collapsing into a bed, stood outside my third grade classroom to make sure I’d gotten to school. My mother was my first best friend, and she died when I was nineteen. Everything I’ve written since then has a bit of her in it.” (website)