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BooksMay 17, 2024

The Friday Poem: ‘Xiāng’ by Hannah Patterson

Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

A new poem by Hannah Patterson.

Xiāng

There’s a pear tree in our backyard
And Xiāng tells me
She can’t eat them anymore
Not after some things that have happened in her life.
She tells me, in Mandarin
The word for pear sounds the same as the word for disassociation
To detach from association
With a person. Sometimes,
She sees pears everywhere.

Now there’s a big bowl of them at the meditation centre
And we’re eating them
But I will never split one with her
Nor she, me
Instead, she offers me an orange
She doesn’t tell me how sweet it is
Breaks it in half and shakes her head, changes her mind,
Walks into the fridge to get another one,
Gives the whole thing to me,
The juice spills over the chopping board
She tells me,
Eyes sparkling and wide
About how fruit is grown from the energy of the sun.
Later that night I am crying
I watch her pack her bags and leave
I watch her zip up her pink metallic suitcase
I say I like her key ring – shaped like a bear
She gives it to me
There’s an empty space on it where her name and address should be
I tell her I’ll write her name on it
So if I lose anything it will get sent back to her
I tell her she reminds me of the orange.

When she shows me how to check the kitchen at night
We find a stray apple, split, pale belly
Bare against the metal bench top
We’re going through the checklist
Checking everything is good and right
Apple on the bench, check
I point, we laugh
We pull the blue plastic plug out of the industrial dishwasher
Turn the lights off
The room is grey and chrome and the quails stop warbling at night
Before we leave we look back at the table,
The apple is in the right place,
She says.

 

The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed.

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