Three poems by Jennifer Lee Tsai

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    Another Language

 

When I speak in Cantonese,
I’m almost a different person.
Louder, brighter.
The seven tones, ascending,
descending like musical notes.

My grandparents,
leaving the fragrant harbour
of Hong-Kong, the Pearl River of Guang-Zhou
for the dream of a better life in the West –
what did they make of English?

Alighting from the liner at the docks
in the rain, hearing Liverpool accents
for the first time –
two gold koi
swimming into the Mersey.

 


 

    Last Night

 

I dreamt of you again
there in that Victorian house
draped with ivy and wisteria
by the lake and the park
an attic room overlooking
a garden gone wild
bramble      red clover      nettles

an array of sash windows
criss-crossed with bars
on the outside and inside
the frames dusty with cobwebs
a White-Witch moth

the room filled with smoke
and candlelight      perfume of juniper berries
no furniture      just a bed      an old turntable
a mélange of Rameau and Beefheart    
cherubs on the ceiling
and up the alabaster walls

 


 


    An Old Flame

 

Lately she can’t stop thinking
of him again – their brief dance
when her amber dress flared
up in the night like a match –
struck, then quickly extinguished
before the fire started.

 
 

Jennifer Lee Tsai

About Jennifer Lee Tsai

Jennifer Lee Tsai was born in Bebington and grew up in Liverpool. She is a fellow of The Complete Works and a Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critic. Her poems are published in the Bloodaxe anthology 'Ten: Poets of the New Generation' (2017), Oxford Poetry, The Rialto, SMOKE and Ambit. Her debut poetry pamphlet is forthcoming in July 2019 from Ignition Press.