After Antonín Dvořák
Mvt. I: Allegro
in / the belly / of / the woods / we toss
kindling into a pit // jagged geometry /
of combustion // strike matches on our skin //
watch the campfire work / its teeth
through mountain blackness // & I
am incendiary // north wind
lurching / in from / upper / valley /
no match for the flames / that eat
forest breath / like praise // for the fire /
that undresses itself / before
the eyes of the moon // for the night
that doesn’t give in /
Mvt. 2: Adagio ma non troppo
You come in from the back garden
through the screen door, skirt billowing
like an elfin sigh. Night lilies
cupped in your hands. Outside
the kitchen window, the hermit thrushes
sing: leave me
to walk alone in my dreams. Skin
swapping sallowness for lustre, your voice
no longer thick with illness. The moon,
twists its head to gaze at you.
The stars that puncture the sky
like miles of headlights,
candles of the evening’s vigil.
I pluck dreams of you
from my sleep garden until they begin to taste
less like petals and more like poems. Like ashes.
Mvt. 3: Finale (Allegro moderato)
We drive. The city in the distance
like crumpled aluminum. Dark
mountain behind us a closed up shop.
Bandits on wild Chincoteague ponies ravage
my sleep, carry away my ghosts
in sister-skinned saddlebags. I don’t know
what to expect, but I do know this:
where we’re going, there will be no singing—
only the sound of the highway mumbling
in the stiff dark. Telephone poles buttressing dawn.
The horses’ hooves like drums.
Esther Sun is a Chinese-American writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poems have been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation and are forthcoming from or have appeared in Euphony Journal, Élan, and Blue Marble Review.