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The table is a tool. The table is an object, and a place.
The table is lying still and standing tall both at once.
What goes with the table? A chair or a large scroll
of paper. What goes with the table is what needs
the table. Without the table you are burning your
fingers. Without the table you are burning money
in the park. The opposite of the table is the inverse
of the table. Vases crashing to the floor. Arms falling.
The opposite of the table is no table, a room with
a higher ceiling, a lower floor, musical chairs, and
a sense of disorder. The people at the table are just
spinning around themselves. What you bring
to the table is just what you bring and keep in your
bag where it embarrasses you privately. The table
gives you a sense of up and down. Your hands go on
the table. Your feet go under, with the dog, and
the other feet. Under the table are wars. If you lie
on the table, you subject the table to a terrible guilt.
It is no longer a table people can eat on. If you stand
next to the table, the table senses its mortality. When
the table sleeps on its stomach, you feel very afraid.
The table is your starting point, and thank god the table’s
not the floor. Clap with one hand and the table. Keep
clapping. The table separates heaven and hell. Unknown
and unknown. In a room, the table is where life happens.
Palms facing down and up, touching; each player
advancing, retreating; the whole team; apples
and pears touching; sweet smoke. Even in a large room.

 

You Li is a law student and poet who was born in Beijing, grew up in central Illinois and Philadelphia, and lives in New York. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Nassau Literary Review, Two Cities Review, Lunch Ticket, and mojo. She has received a scholarship from Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

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