Anyway, I wrote the editors asking for a copy, but they said it's sold out. As you may know, there are only a few poems published in each issue (Joseph Legaspi has a poem in that issue as well), and I was really happy to have it in there because I'm a big Gonzalez fan. If you haven't read any of his work, I'd recommend him highly.
LINES Lee Herrick
I only saw two in Beijing—not at any restaurant,
where you lean in and jockey for position against the hordes
or just let the food arrive when it will. Not at the international
airport where the same rules apply. But in the evening
when the thirty grandmothers came out to dance in lines
their arms curling like thin flags around their bodies.
They formed a square, really, a gathering of years
stepping softly in perfect time to the music.
The other one was a true line, hundreds of tourists long,
entering Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum. It was official business
armed guards politely taking our cameras, backpacks,
bottles of water, saying you can get this when you are through
the line. We filed in one by one, walking swiftly
up to the body encased in glass, his belly rising under the flowers,
an occasional tourist from Shanghai or Denver trying
to slow down, to better capture this moment, the guards
nudging them along saying, keep this line moving—
And then there are the ones I remember from school
The dreadful kickball line, up against the wall so the strong kids
could decide who to pick, who to pick, eyeing each scrawny kid
to fill out their team, each of us looking down at the sad gravel
wishing we could burrow into it and out of this lineup—
And now there are the ones I think about most, the lonely couplet,
the boastful quatrain, the curving lineage of my father’s and mother’s
pasts, the unfinished one of my future, and mostly these new ones,
these slight mirages that appear when I look in the mirror and smile,
the stories written right there beside my eyes, almost like the thirty
grandmothers, these fables dancing among us.
First published in The Bloomsbury Review, July/August 2003, Volume 23, Issue 4.