Three poems by Mickee Cheung • Empty Mirror

east of here / credit: deeast of here / credit: de

Ode to growing tomatoes

These days, it seems all I do is tend to this garden and feed this
dog they’ve left me and made me walk and pick shit up after

and dote on. The children, they don’t come home for dinner
or call to let me know and Mickee and Megan snap jaws at each

other like chummed sharks again. What’s there left to do. Knot
each vine to a stake and watch each globe redden and swell

with stretch marks. Look at how they plump–look, how I touch
and they follow so gently from their stems. If I set them here

for you and close my eyes I can see you chewing each one
slowly. Do you remember back on the fields the year we grew

one tomato plant and my brother lectured it was a waste we
didn’t have eggs to eat them with but when the first tomato

finally ripened I cradled it in my hands and you gathered your
hands around mine and we slid it off its stem together we were

so young then and that harvest the tomatoes so sweet they made
my mother’s teeth ache but my teeth were still fine then I could

still bite and break the skin so that the juice and seeds burst out
and dribbled down my chin and neck for you to lick up we were

also waiting for our children then. Now I take a cherry tomato
and press it to my tongue and I wait for the children to come home.

Emergency Room Tableau

Every day the earth grows a little bit warmer.
I think the ice caps must be recolonizing

in my gut because every day I shiver
a little bit harder. Soon it will become

a shudder. I already shudder out of sleep.
In my dreams, everything is always cold.

The dead lie perfectly preserved
on Everest and the rest of us decay, breath

by breath. At the hospital, the doctors
cut me open. Inside, they find a ribcage,

and inside the ribcage, they find nothing.
And perhaps because hearts and livers

and lungs are short in supply, they
stuff me up with cotton balls, rolls of gauze,

and little white pills that clatter
against my ribs as I shiver.

Cento for Clocks

Please do not die now. Listen.
Each night, I count ghostlets of how my body
has been pushed beneath the water.
My poisoned throat and blue veins
existing perpetually without air.
Only I did not die.
Only this and nothing more.
A thousand times good night
& galaxy & goodbye. Once I climbed inside
time but yes, the glass was “hello”
scraped hollow with a wrought-iron ladle.
I tell this as a clock tells time but telling can’t diminish it.

Clocks everywhere telling people,
“Please do not die now. Listen.”

Lines from:

Leon Stokesbury, “Unsent Message to My Brother in His Pain”
Amy Key, “Lousy with unfuckedness, I dream”
Michael Blumenthal, “Stones”
Diane Wakoski, “Blue Monday”
Barbara Guest, “Roses”
Claudia Putnam, “Battle of Brintellix”
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Zeina Hashem Beck, “There, There, Grieving”
Jason Bredle, “The Idiot’s Guide to Faking Your Own Death and Moving to Mexico”
Sam Killmeyer, “When You Tell Me That You Feel Alone”
Alice Fulton, “Roar Shack”
E. E. Cummings, “9”

About Mickee Cheung

Mickee Cheung studies Creative Writing at the University of Washington, where she serves as Managing Editor of Bricolage Literary and Visual Arts Journal. She is the 2018 undergraduate recipient of the Joan Grayston Prize for Poetry. An intern at Wave Business Relationships and an assistant at Hugo House, Mickee also runs @literarymickee, a bookstagram.

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