A WIND MACHINE FOR ORANGES UP NORTH
When asked about
the last orange grove in Orange County –
I am at a loss.
Where is the last orchard?
Aliso Viejo? Laguna Niguel?
Costa Mesa? Sparse groves
on the way to San Juan Capistrano?
Neglected orchards in Santa Ana
skirting your waist? Oranges
at the height of fire-ladders?
Migrant farmworkers no longer
move through the groves.
no longer circulate air for warmth.
and garden robbers
once perfumed the moon with orange-musk
las vendedoras de naranjas,
rocío de naranja.
X IS NOT FOR XENOPHOBIA IN MANDARIN
The year I turned forty, I recited my name four times
on a magnetic recording, low-flying birds, orchids,
peace arranged – so.
I posted my audio-name to the world.
I used to imagine it as the grass radical, a floral one
occurring with names of fragrant plants, i.e. orchid.
X is not for xenophobia in my name,
rather, a pause – silence, a hesitation – lingers over
the spelling. Hui is the correct Romanization, not hwei.
Rhymes with way, not with wee.
Peace fragrant orchid. An for peace.
Hwei is fragrant orchid. Mother’s mother’s name, a grass
radical – cao bushou
renders an ideograph more feminine. Those strangers
who fail to pronounce my name say X.
To those who say X, the vowels signify low-flying birds,
disjoined from syllable, from sound.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Karen An-hwei Lee currently lives in San Diego, where she serves in the university administration at Point Loma Nazarene University. Her recent poetry collections are PHYLA OF JOY (Tupelo 2012), ARDOR (Tupelo 2008), and IN MEDIAS RES (2004)