My favorite phrase in Mandarin is “Changjiang shangyou hen feiwo,” which translates to “The upper reaches of the Yangtze River valley are very rich and fertile,”a fact that has nothing to do with why I love it. If you could hear it spoken you might understand, because the way the chang rises up to meet the jiang (Chinese is a tonal language) and then swoops from the abrupt shang waaaay down to the you, the curving sonority of which is matched by the hen, the whole sentence ending with a slight curve of fei to the command of the WO! is entrancing. That whole rhythm=hypnotic thing is why I love this poem.
– Chard deNiord
She rose from bed and coughed
for an hour. Entered her niche
that was also her shower. Shaved
her legs with Ockham’s razor.
Rinsed her hair with holy
water. Opened the curtain
that was double-layered. Slipped
on her robe in the widening
gyre. Gazed in the mirror
with gorgeous terror. Took out
a cigarette and held it
like a flower. Lit it devoutly
like the wick of a pyre. Smoked
like a thurible in the grip of a friar.
Stared out the window
at the leaves on fire, fire, fire…
*If you, like me, aren’t entirely sure what anchorite means, it means “religious recluse.”
My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alison-McGhee/119862491361265?ref=ts