Laurie Kuntz


I know there are lovers,
And age spots,
And after not seeing you for years, I demand
To know the accent of your new man,
And see how the Grey looks peppered down your braid.

Your letter comes, and your handwriting flings
Me into memory's candied rotations.

You detail daily litanies:
Markets and day lilies,
Sitting out afternoon squalls in back alley cafes,
And the vanity of scrutinizing spider veins,
Which you count with Virgo-like intensity.

I scribble ultimatums,
reckoning all I need to share:
A new painting, dog, book,
Wallpaper changed three times
Since I have seen you.

Each detail coils like a tattered flag,
Beckons beyond a collection
Of words folded and stamped
In the past tense,

to a time of offerings:
your pearl tipped fingers braiding my hair
A warm drink served in tea stained porcelain cups.
All we took in hand,
An emblem to our existence,

Gilded like the painting on my wall
of a Japanese woman playing a shamisen
she sits in an October garden,
The music reaches those she has left behind,
Some far, some as near as the veranda
She has stepped off to play in this garden
Awash with autumn hydrangea.

I want to give you a globe of purple petals
And strum the shamisen
I know you will hear the music
and smell the slow browning autumn grass,
As the notes resound and reach you in a place
Across borders of memory, where details are plucked
And tuned to our ordinary separate lives.

Laurie Kuntz worked in a Vietnamese refugee camp in the Philippines for over a decade. Currently, she is a lecturer in English at the University of Maryland's Asian Campus in Misawa, Japan. She holds an MFA from Vermont College. She is the winner of the 1999 Texas Review Chapbook Contest and her chapbook, Simple Gestures, is published by Texas Review Press (2000). Edwin Mellen Press published her poetry collection, Somewhere in the Telling in 1999. Blue Light Press will publish her chapbook, Women at the Onsen, which placed first runner up in their annual contest, in 2001.


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