Water Weight

 

Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco

 

a
right hand pointing
chapbook

 

copyright 2018 by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco

 

cover by Dale Wisely

 

Acknowledgements

 

“Water weight” first appeared in Eunoia Review; “The Old Dam” first appeared in The Potomac Review; “Tropical Ken Finds the Ocean” and “Measuring” first appeared in The Lake; a version of “Herring” first appeared in Gnarled Oak; and “Line” first appeared in Red River Review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

water weight

how much you had to

lose

 

 
 

Four Mouths Deep

 

We would line bottles

on the counter:

four mouths deep.

 

You said

it sounded like a fortress,

 

and I thought fast

 

and said oceans,

but I didn’t have

the time to get much

 

further:

blank fish

bodies,

 

and the plants

no one had named.

 

We never got those bottles

back, the two of us,

 

or anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tropical Ken Finds the Ocean

 

 

What did you

think, as the water

found the joints

of everything, and foamed

and churned: sand wave then sand

fusing together

and the sounds became                                                                                                                                   the ocean

and the fish

tossed like bright

capes, and then the little boy

who’d held you

was a doll, too small

to see.

 

 

The Old Dam

 

The old dam comes up

like bones

 

out of the water

 

so it looks

like it is rising:

 

a dull cry.

 

It is your mother’s

cancer coming back,

 

and the thin beam

of her arm

around your waist.

 

This is the way

you knew.

 

You sit next

 

to Lake McClure

and the sun

 

marks out your outline

on the gravel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

Crows: Part 1

 

The crows remembered

you:

 

hunching

over, with your backpack

like a baby

and your hair stuck to your cheeks.

 

They stood waiting

on the fence outside the school, but

they said

 

nothing.

 

Herring

 

If they are right

and the ocean fills the street

I’ll shut

 

the door

and watch

 

for herring

out the window. (Schools

 

of silver, chandeliers

of thinning

 

rain.)

 

Half a Religion

 

My son wants to catch

the fish —

just eyes

and spine —

next to the boat

launch, so we stand

knee-deep in water,

where they gather,

half-clear souls,

and we are too

big for their world,

wider than rocks,

than fallen oars,

our skin faint

longing in the small waves,

and they swim away

from us,

joining and breaking,

joining, breaking.

 

Crows: Part 2

 

In your room,

ten years later, we leaned back

against the wall

 

passing a bottle of cheap wine

back and forth.

You said that once

 

you found a dead crow

in the field behind your house

 

and watched the others

mourning it

 

a small crazed group

with bright hard

eyes.

 

You said its wings

 

lifted lightly

in the wind.

 
 

arms

of submerged lake grass

campfire ghosts

 

dive boat

fish swim through

our shadows

Castro Street

 

Light and fog. Old curtains

 

in the windows

and the men

walking back home after the bars.

 

(They brought flowers

when a neighbor died,

 

sprays of perfect

roses.)

 

Crows: Part 3

 

Crows live everywhere, these

days.

 

When you had gone,

I rolled the windows down

and watched the crows pick things:

 

styrofoam and bread and trashed

receipts. Their wingbeats echoed

 

through the parking lot

like slaps.

 

Measuring

 

How much

of my father

was his drive

home every night

the burr

of radio, the sun

held beneath

buildings,

and the road

he never looked at

spinning

carefully

away?

 

Red Crabs

 

I have re-

remembered them

 

as little dancers, their

smooth movements

 

just like ribbons

pulled apart.

 

Line

 

Someone else buried you;

they sent us

pictures.

 

There: your ashes

a thin mist

above a stranger’s

white-gloved hand.

 

There: the blue line

of the ocean, like a space

to write your name.

 
 
 

back to top 

 

Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California's Central Valley, where she works as a librarian and co-edits One Sentence Poems. Her two previous chapbooks, Various Lies and Lion Hunt, are available from Finishing Line Press and Plan B Press, respectively.

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