Kristine Ong Muslim: Menu Entry for a Mr. Saunders
A man who just lost his job takes the stairs
and exits the building. At this point in his life,
he turns into an origami swan. Wingtips slanted
in aerodynamic stupor, beaks pursed.
Breathing through his mouth so as not to bend
out of proportion the sharp edges of his body.
The low tune is called uncertainty.
The highest note is either aggression
or anticipation. The dead air in between
is likened to a man waiting to be castigated.
The language barrier. Like a fern talking to
a pitcher of orange juice. Only our love
for empty vessels has brought us here.
The words that fill us just get in the way.
The reclusive doll who was not invited to the funeral.
Her name is Lindsay. They call her Mona.
Those were the names of the daughters you never had.
Like life in the flowerbed:
witness how the torn segments of worms
regenerate. The stages between the pain
of being severed to the throes of elongating
into a much roomier body are the bookplates
to keep matters in place.