from Catabolism

To solicit silence, not preceding or shadowing

a moment but subsequently memorialized as a sensation,

you would have to be static. Thinking back

is a term we use to preface regret. You too

have not forgotten? To carry no contradictions

we must build emptiness as one stretches the body

to win an eating contest. All attempts to re-enact

the emotion relies on the familiar. Within time,

opinions collude to become a history. Within

time, rules apply to gestures. In years, how

will strangers read us when we walk by?

A clothesline over the bathtub prompts a debate

over utility and necessity. Structures collapse

without warning: this is a cautionary tale

where the subject is reprised for what

could have been avoided. We can take refuge

in something other than the mind for image does

not always follow content. Books suggest

compassion softens the self to be less itself,

the I interchangeable for you so we

feel the sadness of the world lessen our own.

The teacher said, Rome was not built in a day,

we understood he was referring to his own life.

The whorl of form, the heft

in raising a body by the arms:

every day we are fooled. Night stalks

the hands of a clock. Time is my

adversary, not disease, bank or winter.

If we bend far enough we avoid a fall.

We are not from here, reference is not

genetic. Place as sentiment from whence

separation begins. We ask feet to forget

the summer rendered in sentences.

After we speak of beauty, we are led

to its consequences. The sorrow

of age: to sit like a crow, to stand

like a diseased tree.


Tsering Wangmo Dhompa was raised in India and Nepal. Tsering received her MA from University 
of Massachussetts and her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Her 
first book of poems, Rules of the House, published by Apogee Press in 2002 was a finalist for 
the Asian American Literary Awards in 2003. Other publications include In the Absent Everyday 
(Apogee Press) and two chapbooks, In Writing the Names (A.bacus, Potes & Poets Press) and 
Recurring Gestures (Tangram Press). My Rice Tastes like the Lake, a book of poems is 
forthcoming from Apogee Press. Tsering lives in San Francisco.