Kim Fu is an exuberant young Canadian writer whose work is popping up all over the place, including two poems in the recent issue of The New Quarterly that also features a short story by our beloved dg. Kim is currently finishing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia where she studied poetry with Keith Maillard. I have the good fortune of knowing Kim personally by way of her being a dear friend of my son, Jacob. Kim is kind and gentle with a fierce intellect. Read her poems and you’ll see.
— Lynne Quarmby
Let us change bodies
Let us change bodies
as we might change seats.
Everyone move one to the left,
now you are someone else.
Your teeth are misaligned in a different way,
your vision is wrecked or perfected,
you box people and art with new prejudice.
Your mouth is still mindlessly full: a street pakora,
or clear noodles made of bean curd,
or goat meat shredded and tamped down, or raw liver,
or an electric toothbrush, a lover’s finger, a deep-fried scorpion
all and any of these things suddenly routine.
Now you’re someone else,
the sun is crushing your eyelids shut,
sending you fleeing from noon, thirsty
down to the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.
Now you’re someone else,
and the air is tepid bathwater, the grey inoffensive,
leaving you docile and confused about the time of day.
Now you are watching a window
as a wasp trembles in
and ricochets off the kitchen chair like a drunk.
Now you are in a bed that bows as deeply
as a suspension bridge,
cradling a man’s head to your chest as he weeps
and you feel your resolve drain away.
Now you are climbing the outer cliffs of a mountain
on a spiritual pilgrimage,
the marker at the top an upstretched hand.
Now you are climbing a mountain
because the landscape forms the profile of a witch
and you were drunk and wanted to prove a local legend wrong.
Now someone is taking your picture,
and you’ve forgotten how your mouth works;
you mash your lips together with one canine exposed
thinking it’s a closed-mouth smile.
Now your grown child is begging you to eat,
but grief has severed the ties between your hand and the spoon.
Now you are paralyzed by your own importance.
Now you are counting fireflies, or stars,
or lit-up homes in a valley.
Pinpoints lives that blink on and then off
or blaze like meteors in the Pleiades,
eclipse the night.
Tree Exposed by Lightning
The tree lies on the crushed house
looking startled, a man who wakes up
in a heap of alley trashbags, kidneys gone.
His rounded back is the still image
of a Tesla ball, a violet tattoo of branches.
The fastest path to the ground passes shoulders
and coils to the spine.
Look at the pulp heroine with her clothes ripped open,
backgammon points of breast,
insides of a tree: under black cinder,
raw sienna, a jagged reveal.
Was there a sound? A whipcrack,
less certain than thunder,
mild vertigo of expecting an extra step.
Then the creak, a warning to the house:
sorry, old friend.
Why do you know where you were
when so-and-so was shot,
when so-and-so pushed the button
and the bombs fell,
when the faces went stern on the television?
Why do those get to be the moments?
When the tree came down,
we ran out into the eye.
We ran from our homes,
from the store and the gas station,
the diner and the bank.
We knew each other’s names.
No-Fault Divorce, Winter
Gave a stranger fifty-five cents to ride the last bus
rumbling slowly along the unplowed streets.
He saluted me through the window. I pressed on,
past cars abandoned sideways at the bottom of a hill.
Decorative hedges shorn, branched as coral made of ice.
Street signs pressed in crystal. The city looked wild,
snow stacked haphazardly in the middle of the road,
lost hats and gloves, futile tire tracks. Somewhere,
blankets contoured to bodies, a glimpse of flesh:
glancing light off smothered patio furniture,
indistinct shapes to be dug out or forgotten.
Twenty blocks from home, sky relit by reflection,
I passed under dammed gutters, stalactites glistening.
Home: newly empty bed and sulphurous gas heat,
creak of water pipes almost audible. Cyclical,
inevitable, still no one was prepared. In the wind,
a poignant sting. Such pleasure in our defeat.
These take your breath away. Especially Let Us Change Bodies.
Thank you for posting, Lynne.
love the work, and wished the photo had a caption as it informs the viewer with confused information which made me go to her site to see if she is disabled and still could not find info on what seems to be a performance piece.
Valerie, Thanks for pointing out this ambiguity. Bad call on my part. Kim is not disabled and I will find another photo.
Having read these, I now feel like someone else — which is what the best poetry does to a soul. Thank you.
I love when a piece of art makes me feel small and insignificant, yet simultaneously connected to others. “Let us change bodies” did that for me. Thank you.
Last night, I perched on my stoop to watch a funnel cloud begin to form. This morning, I read these poems which solicited a very similar experience. The writing is beautiful and fierce but avoids sentimentality … a rare balance. I will likely never forget the line, “Why do those get to be the moments?” As many others, I feel as though I have been transported.