Fall 2015, Volume 19

Poetry by Cathy Guo


There are three women living
inside this house now.
Instead of words, I hold
Szechuan peppercorns
gently in my mouth
until I smell all over
with the faint russet
of another country’s spices.

Each woman hoarding her own secrets
wrapped in ritual and musk,
cooking and the undoing of it.
Mother: bland dishes with
hollow-heart vegetables drooped
on top a bowl of rice. Mrs. Lo:
European stews, colored and
unconvincing Me: unable to recover
my hands. I wash the dishes instead.
We work. We convince each other
of not being tired.

Here we are,
poised on the edge of leaving
this table. How little
the windowless world outside knows
of what we have said
between the balances of salt and meat,
the unspeakable confessions
in using another set of spoons.




Cathy Guo is the recipient of the River of Words Grand Prize in Poetry and a Columbia University fellowship funding her first chapbook project, which aims to present both oral history and poetry in a dialogue on memory, landscape and diaspora. She has been published in
Cuckoo Quarterly, Just Poetry and the Columbia Review.