I’m scrubbing egg and dried-on rice from the bowls,
dunking cups through the sudsy murk.
He brings me a square of paper dotted with perfectly round holes.
Here. I made it for you.
It’s an old cd sleeve
with most of the cellophane ripped away.
He’s pulled a dried-out reddish marker
across the paper in a fashion resembling nothing,
then found my hole punch
to make an assortment of circles.
I cannot say there is design.
Nor can I say there is not.
I hold it up to the evening light.
One day I think he must ask why,
or, as I have, how they could have done it or not done it.
And how do I know
if he will shudder, as I have,
in stunned gratitude
that they did and didn’t.
His hair wisps a color between
sand and earth; his smile explodes,
expands like nothing our gene pool could
undoing, re-creating his whole
stubby, sun-browned face.
As an artist might take a small scissors
and plain white paper and suddenly unfold
a city of skyscrapers, laced with windows,
or a ruffled peony bee-studded, tinged pink.
What can I say to Calvin, to the Apostle Paul, to Plato,
to all the knots anyone has ever wished
to tie on this ragged cloak called knowing?
Here is this riddled light. A ribbon of holes.
My hands, still damp, have warped
and wrinkled the paper. He’s gone
to punch more holes. I tape the gift
to a window washed with night.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 23, Issue 3.
See all items about Jenny Hykes Jiang