Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Two Poems

Two Poems

By Jerrold Yam


Sometimes, when the earth prepares for rain, I think
of having a child. Like me
it shall not know, gathering life at another’s expense
as cloud from lake, how cells become matter, how
generously it lowers into being. And on nights
when the weight of achievement bears
down on its furs and wires, the cord
like a ladder tucked away to keep
from tripping, it may recognise who
seeks behind grace, patient plougher
sifting a harvest of arteries. No prize on
earth will be equal to dust. Turning,
its soil is renewed, bone panelled like oak
and pliant walnut, seconds before birth
he holds it, in love’s toothed harrows, and runs.

NOTE: This poem first appeared in Scattered Vertebrae (Math Paper P).

* * *


It was worth all the fighting, when I was younger,
the way land heaved apart, surrendering to land
greater than itself, the dirt’s authority
over its pretty tenants. I saw tarmac
recede to a scrawl, my face turned away from my mother
as she braved another holiday. Then it
wasn’t about control, or my sister’s quiet shedding,
I later conceded to be generous
and loved her for it. These days I could build
cities on my mother’s flesh
to deem her selfish. And from my seat
the lights persevere, thin
as scattered vertebrae, I am thinking of our family’s
women as faraway bulbs, their history
with crippling loss, and
how I am pieced together, shell and sand,
from the spine of their collective strength. Who
knew. Something tells me I’m ready for
the better nature of distance, I want to gather their
ashes before the plane reconciles with earth.

NOTE: This poem first appeared in Scattered Vertebrae (Math Paper P).


Jerrold Yam

Jerrold Yam is a law undergraduate at University College-London and the author of the poetry collections Scattered Vertebrae and Chasing Curtained Suns. His poems have been published in more than seventy literary journals and anthologies worldwide, including Antiphon, Counterexample Poetics, Mascara Literary Review, Prick of the Spindle, The New Poet, Third Coast, and Washington Square Review. His poems have recently been translated into Spanish.

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