Jenny Yang Cropp
Jenny Yang Cropp is the author of Hanging the Moon (RockSaw Press, 2010). Her poems have appeared in Ecotone, Hayden’s Ferry, Boxcar Poetry Review, and other journals. She is working on her Ph.D. at the University of South Dakota.
Festival of Language events: 2013 Milwaukee M/MLA
1. . . . milky white, opaque / petals on a flower I passed a hundred times / without seeing.
She thought of milk as something that held
and emitted light. She thought of milk
spilling and spreading
until the grain of the wood table emerged,
until the pattern of the linoleum
below, goldenrods and brown borders,
was inked in iridescence.
2. I saw my face in a misty mirror. / Opaque, nearly erased,
It was a misunderstanding that went on
too long, a definition
she couldn’t give up or unlearn,
the way it felt
when she meant it
like this, a word still clinging
to the sliver of light
that might pass through.
3. If I could adjust the opacity of my skin, I’d show you /
All references are,
4. . . . legs wrapped / in opaque tights, tiniest hint of skin . . .
Later, she would say
that she was not wrong
to use the word this way,
only overly optimistic
for the time and place.
WHEN A CLOUD COVERS THE MOON
The field goes blank. I can’t tell
my limbs from the sky. I can’t tell
your voice from a rusty creak,
a gate swinging open and shut, or is it
the low roll of a tractor
weighed down by a round bale of hay?
You can’t hear me. My words get lost
in a whistle of fear and wind.
In the dark, I am erased,
except for my fingers, still hot
from the bale, fresh cut hay
compressed, each piece bound tight
to another, friction and moisture
building heat. This is how
barn fires start—a smoldering
deep inside the bale, unnoticed
until it’s full flame. This is why
later, trying to ease ourselves to sleep
in a camper near the woods,
far from house and porch light,
swarms of mosquitoes
shadowing the front garden,
we’ll lose each other again, edges
blurring and fading. In the dark,
breath and heat. Our turn and press
singeing mattress and blankets,
windows of thick plastic
melting under our touch.
DARK ENERGY, DARK MATTER
1. No one expected this, no one knew how to explain it. But something was causing it.
From the empty lot across the street, I sketch my house, an empty frame with darkened windows. Charcoal smudges and becomes shadow. My fingers for erasers. It isn’t life or time, fate or family, which rubs until my edges blur and fill the page. Destroy and create. Destroy and create. I.
2. Maybe there was some strange kind of energy-fluid that filled space.
I want my son to learn to swim. Summers, I floated on my back in bodies of water green and dark or bobbed in the shadows of wooden docks. Horse flies and splinters. Hours spent heaving myself up into the sun, then jumping back in. In the movement from water to air, the body learns how heavy it is.
3. More is unknown than is known.
Always a hum instead of silence. Cricket or wind, electric feedback, whistle and echo, pulse or breath. But, to be still? To feel the universe expand but not have to hear it?
4. The number came out 10120 times too big. That's a 1 with 120 zeros after it. It's hard to get an answer that bad.
Even a physicist must sometimes mistake pain for love, wonder later at how easy it is to be so wrong.