A Poem For Thursday


“Time Is Polyphonic” by Ken Chen:

In those days after his father died, she came to learn that
when she could no longer hear what he was doing,
when she stopped hearing the turn of a page or typing in the other room
that he could only be weeping to himself. Sometimes she would wake in the
middle of the night and see the kitchen light on
and infer. Many years later, he sees a picture of himself:
so young and old and penitent that he feels a strange fondness for this other
person. He wonders half-humorously if he had grown wise through grief
(he is not wise now) though if anyone had asked, he would
have said, ‘I guess I was depressed. I don’t think I learned anything.’
They are in the bedroom. He passes
her a glass of bourbon and asks her what he was like then.
She says, ‘What, seriously?’
She sees from the whimsical look in his eye
that he no longer needed to be defended.
She takes a cold sip. ‘You crawled into yourself.
I was lonely sometimes.
You snapped at me a lot.’

(From Juvenilia, Yale University Press © 2010 by Ken Chen, Executive Director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Photo by Flickr user opethpainter)