January Poetry: Two Poems by Elaine Hsiang

"supper" and "in another life"
January 16, 2018

Image: Amanda Niekamp via Flickr.

Elaine Hsiang’s prose poems, "supper" and "in another life," infuse the ordinary with magic. These vignettes, woven with color and synesthesia, make us wistful for a "life [that] smell[s] like laughter & lemon tonic," while also empowering us to believe that we, too, can transform our winters into lemon tarts and sweetness in jars.

—Eugenia Leigh, Poetry Editor


seventeen hours ago i returned from port & raced a pretty woman home. ran past the church on sixth to pick up honey ginger tea & a box of sugar for a small cake. at home there sat a veggie roast & this pretty woman of mine, she stirred the stock while i poured wine into chocolate dough. at eight o’ clock my life smelled like laughter & lemon tonic with a big bowl of soup. as the earth yawned we fed our dishes into the night. retreated to dimmer light. & learned facts of the body. in the fridge a patient cake waited to be shared by friends, & other strangers we loved.


in another life

there is a girl who closes her eyes. she takes a breath. a paint brush, and brushes her cheeks with the beginning of color. she paints the shape of a cloud. out of the folds she draws the last time she made winter a lemon tart. winter carried a long straw beard and sang in a four-piece chorus. up in the mountains she leaves winter and interrupts the honey dripping in her chest. a gift from a past lover. she collects the sweetness in a jar and watches it drink open the sun. she would do this for years. for now she dusts the tide an amber gold, maps an atlas for the hands in her own.

she sets her brush down to let her clouds dry. in a minute she will pull them over her head like covers. open her mouth for a yawn. and come home to herself.




Elaine Hsiang

Elaine Hsiang's first chapbook, 'one day i will be louder than all the bruises on your knees,' was released by pizza pi press in 2015. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is a queer immigrant, poet, and medical student in San Francisco.