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Two Poems by Jennifer Huang

What is the / true opposite of human?

Poetry | Poetry Tuesday
January 18, 2022

That dawn at the beach

I saw a sika turn into a shark.
He plodded to the edge of the earth.
When the wind shifted, he noticed
me in the dark and dove
into the water, his legs
soaring to the heavens
and his tail becoming an arced fin.
He caught waves like I used to
catch my father in prayer
giving his soft away. I want
to be seen like that.
Now, the sting of incense
is a ceremony of beasts
who shift to fit the morning.

Notes on Orange

In case you’re wondering, the fruit came first, the color
name second. They called it red-yellow for some time, and
for some time it was just that. Red brought nearer to
humanity by yellow
, as Kandinsky described it. I am just
that: a human who wants to be closer to god. What is the
true opposite of human? Maybe orange. A piece of sun, its
properties have been known to help us recall the feeling of
cool-blue grass under toes, the chime of a baby robin, the
holy scent of ripe mud. What is it that makes us want to get
close? To the gods, to summer, to sweetness, before we
retreat again, before we

desire again. It comes hungry in the night when I wake to
sweet citrus stuck in my fingernails and remember the way
I eat oranges as if I had known you. Cutting eight sections.
Cutting each fibrous top. Sticking my fingers into flesh to
extract the seeds. This is how you did it, too—grandfather,
a figment of my imagination. An angry god brought closer
to me by my mother. She named him father, dear, clown,
monster, storm, sunfish, flesh, love—love! If forgiveness is
an absence, I make a tent with my fingers and bow to his
sweet-sour spritzing over me like a bloom, I bloom.

From Return Flight by Jennifer Huang (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2022). Copyright © 2022 by Jennifer Huang. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.