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Ars Poetica in a Dream Language


I dream my mother / unravels / hair out of my mouth

in English / she asks me / to speak Chinese

coils the hair / into a dark gloss / whorled

in her palm / fluency: I can’t / unhear my Chinese

memories in English / does that make them / American

memories / the word ravel / means the same thing

as its opposite / to entangle or disentangle / render

incoherent or make plain / & now / in this dream

she leaves me / to muddle her hair / from my mouth

a thin silk / slick with saliva / I render into shapes

that look nothing / like her / once but no longer

ravel meant to waste / spoil / or destroy a thing

as by pulling / a fabric into threads / if we allow

for obs. meanings / then let me / also go back

in time / to the original state / examine at length

or in a hurry / because what is obscure / becomes

obsolete / leaving a thin trail of threads / when I

look back / I see the path / hair-dark & raveling

Anni Liu is a Chinese/American writer living in Bloomington, IN where she is completing a MFA in Creative Writing and MA in English. She is a recipient of the Undocupoets Fellowship and the current poetry editor of Indiana Review. You can find her work in Sonora Review, Grist Journal, and Monster House Press Quarterly.

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