Coroner Kui Pours Wine in the Dark
by Arlene Ang
He knows his wife beds other men.
Lately, she speaks in high tones,
chopsticks burnt rice into his bowl.
Soup penetrates his skin with burns.
Mornings he cremates bodies.
The soot in his nose is mortality,
the hand pushing him away at night,
the ire in her voice at the mention of love.
A scar shelters his lost face.
He heats the wine, nails stained
from igniting sacrificial paper money.
Is this how the dead catch fire, the odor
of flesh hushing the air like claws?
Pacing, he drinks several cups,
fondles the his father's axe on the wall.
Come winter, his arms will draw
strength from its handle,
his fingers becoming blade.
Upstairs his wife turns in her sleep,
the bed creaks like joint pain. For now,
he considers her head, the warmth
that rests in a thousand bone splinters.
Single Hung Window
by Arlene Ang
Some days a stillness permeates
the room. Like bay ghosts, they enter,
hands intertwined. Sunlight from
window casts a rhombus on
the sideboard pushed against the sill.
The four-poster covets space
like ship inside a bottle. Her daughter
follows the indolent dance of sailboats
through the glass pane, licks
dryness from her lips, imagines salt.
Her brother contemplates the reading
glasses on the table. Last winter
he learned how magnifying lenses
spark fire. He swallows hard.
A day nurse blocks the threshold.