Dali and the Finer Points of Memory

Yong-Yu Huang

On nights like this, I ferry only expired meat

          across the sea. Moonlight blurred in the face

of dark water and the sky reddening

          with every shade of eclipsed heat. By the shore,

I swilled the animals in the palette 

          of my mother’s dress, watched them collapse

on the stern. All their paws angled north,

          like the dream where I am marooned

in every lonely scene. Monochrome

          as the graying bite of wreckage. 

Before the salt settled, I watched

          the clocks unwind into frosted glass,

unlearned genesis as the absence of color 

          in the brackish heat of a storm.

Like the last voyage where I glimpsed a tiger,

          shot through with moonlight

and downing in its own stripes.

          How it spat only fever at my feet,

the canvas ripening into coral,

          paled by the delirium it had torn into. 

Afterwards, I mistook the world’s end

          for a loss that bled itself dry

on the horizon. Red light wrenched

          from some unwilling jaw. I returned 

only to find an ocean of hands

          to grasp, wrung salt from the sails

until there was enough to call it something sweeter.

          All morning, I listened to the murmuring,

seafoam slipping between my teeth.

          Armfuls of mirage to call my own.

I listened for the breathless hum,

          the brush of tide against leavened salt.

Water stretching on and on in black light. 

          In this dream, my mother says there is nothing here 

to see, not now. But once, my hands gessoed

          and still whole enough to slip into 

                                                  this smaller kind of living. 


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