Jane Lin


the deliberate concision of words

               my beloved 

what is excised lifted instead of falling away

               present for every intimate moment 

the room requiring this paring

               from lovemaking to grief to climbing in and out
of a wheelchair because I can't bear 

this whittling

              any position to get to the hospital room,
intestine looped shut

lifted and set

              here, as private as pain gets
in the emergency room

private as cupped hands 
                                                   for the flicker



Jane Lin



I don't know your grief, only its profile
when I look at you, my friend. 
The black shape of paper 
cut by your mother perfectly alive then absolutely—

My mother a few weeks later.



You called when the press of ritual 
and practical was done, your message
playing into my dull brain the last night
in the hospital. Volunteers chanted 
hour after hour beside my mother's body.
At the end, they said her face smiled.



Full light for full shadow.



A Buddhist chant for a corpse
in a wing meant for recovery. An elevator
that stops at every floor on the Sabbath.

A building with no fourth floor
because the Chinese four is a homonym
for death.



I had been told it was coming quickly by one 
doctor while another plotted the next
treatment, another pondered
taking her home. 
                                   When the minute snipped,
I was present and 



Then the call to my brother. Like someone's call
to you.



After years of uncertainty, I had expected 
vigil. Wonder when you know 
someone is dying—Grandmother, 
the 97-year-old neighbor, the niece in hospice—
Is it today, this hour?



I don't know your grief, only the longing
for what isn't here.



Call upon the Compassionate Buddha
to melt her karma, take her 
                                                  to the Pure Land.

Namo amituofo



We clear the room, leave 
the light, a blank sheet of paper.

'“Salvage” arose out of lines I cut from a poem called “Room of Requirement” about witnessing my mother's pain in the hospital. While the original poem was strengthened, I felt compelled to consider what I'd removed and rescue it.

I have Arthur Sze to thank for prodding me beyond a clunky metaphor in “Silhouette” to search deeper and expose what was really in my heart. The result is both a turning inward and reaching out. The structure was influenced by John Edgar Wideman's short story “Newborn Thrown in Trash and Dies.”'

Jane Lin is a poet, teacher, and software engineer, and manages a small HW/SW company in Northern New Mexico. She received her MFA from New York University, a fellowship from Kundiman, and scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and Taos Summer Writers' Conference. Poems have recently appeared in Asian American Literary Review, Cura, jmww, and Spoon River Poetry Review. Her first book, Day of Clean Brightness, is forthcoming from 3: A Taos Press.