“Thuận vợ thuận chồng, tát biển đông cũng cạn.”
On hearing me and my belovèd
bond over our shared politics
above two clacking pairs of chopsticks,
my mother quotes a country proverb:
“When spouses think and act as one,
the Eastern Sea’s no match for them;
were they to splash the brine in rhythm,
they’d cause its depth to plummet down.”
But who would have a heart so evil
as to upend an ecosystem,
make seismic changes to sea level,
evict a dolphin from its home?
A married pair whose minds concur
should wield their luck to heal the world.
The egg roll
does not appreciate
on how his shape resembles
phallus. The egg roll
on being a complex
creature of God,
endowed with free will,
a fractal self
to the frothing
of Freudian theory. The egg roll
counts to ten, then
in a clear, clipped voice
requests a refund.
My hips are splayed, double-jointed,
my gaseous belly round
like a yeasty cauldron
in which chemical reactions
blackly stitch together a homunculus.
My vertebrae, my ribs fan out
against the dip in the mattress
I rest on. They rattle
like cords of firewood
when I roll this way and that. They fuel
the manufacturing. My bones
are sparse, yet spark.
Fumes rise above the brew,
and I am not witch enough to read
the future in them. My frailty
a faith of felt-wrapped eyeballs.
My brain is cotton
yet syrupy, fatigued. The recipe,
it writes and runs itself.
Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011), A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2017), an Elgin Awards Second Place winner, vo-ted on by the international membership of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, and Manatee Lagoon (forthcoming from Acre Books, 2022). She was selected by Marilyn Nelson as winner of Poetry By The Sea’s inaugural sonnet competition. Her poems appear in AGNI, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Poet Lore, Verse Daily, and West Branch. A daughter of Vietnamese refugees, she has a B.A. in math and an M.D. and works in New York City. jennalewriting.com