Poems

LYDIA T. LIU
December was a grassless month

Thus mā added grass to her name

because goats needed forage to live through
the long winter and mā was in labor
when the days were short and darkened
swiftly
RainrainrainrainIt was the year of the goat, 2003.

That summer’s grass sun-dried,
preserved in a prayer
spoken as she was called to dinner as child

                                    May you have grass. Have you 
your grass.

The character 韦
first seen during the 商 Dynasty
which came after the 夏 , or summer,
picturedRainraiia city
Rainrainrainrainprotected, or surrounded
: to defend, or disobey,
  or tanned animal skins,
  turned into bridle

With the addition of two leaves
Rainrainrainrainof grass, 苇
referred to reed,
which was not only grass,
but grass that grew tall in an abundance of water
and remember that December
was a dry month. 

What about the city then?
Probably because its defenders 
were men of great stature
and the inventor of 字
had paddled a boat down a marsh lined
with reed and thought
Rainrainrainrain“Great grass!”
or, for it was night,
mistaken the grass for very thin soldiers
defending the wetland.

Or a poet, encountering
a moment of the unsayable,
an aching love for the grass,
or burning wrath, depending
on whether the city was being protected
or under siege, 
or perhaps each was the other’s predicate
that is to say, they were one thing—
Rainrainrainrainthis grass, and this goat,
and this winter— 
Rainrainraiwhen this water
locked up in snow
and this thought of it fell
Rainrainraion mā’s parched tongue.

Lydia T. Liu is a diasporic poet and scholar, whose writing has appeared in Bellingham Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, Frogpond ,and Columbia Review. Her work received support from the Community of Writers and was recognized as a finalist in the Poetry Society of America Chapbook contest. She grew up in Singapore and lives in New York.