Editor’s note: Tsering Wangmo Dhompa is the author of “My rice tastes like the lake,” “In the Absent Everyday” and “Rules of the House” (all from Apogee Press). “My rice tastes like the lake” was a finalist for the Northern California Independent Bookseller’s Book of the Year Award in 2012. Her non-fiction book on Tibet is forthcoming from Penguin, India in 2013. She recently moved to Santa Cruz where she is pursuing a doctorate in Literature at UC Santa Cruz.
My rice tastes like the lake
It is not everyone’s desire to swim as a fish.
I have a little dog that behaves like a cat,
it is not his fault he cannot pass the discipline test.
A fault line runs through the city center
sullen as a stretch mark under a dress;
we believe our undoing comes from one source.
An escape plan is our solace. There are words,
there are stories we never tell. She said
on the radio, my rice tastes like the lake.
It was a perfect sentence.
History books conflate the idea
of human existence with errors of ethereal
bodies. A gamine girl is a fairy; she’s also poor
in storybooks. A sentimental person understands
narratives have much to do with him (there is no irony
here) as in a child’s game where an eructation for
every blunder is justice. This is before the rules change.
I am doleful when I read a riddle where the frisson
of a feast is warded till the moment
of an acceptance speech. Memory chastens us
to follow the recipe to the last letter
for utmost result. (Sturdy and stocky
are said to outlive the rest of us.)
Selvage: For Country
Girls in pink hats peek at a sky woolly
as the head of a cauliflower. Trees are wood;
you said a picture reminds you of the world
and I thought, There he goes again! You meant
shipping containers, borders and civilities of industry.
Perhaps it is no longer necessary to hope. I have you,
time-slayer magician who keeps me longing, if not
distracted recalling places where happy is reflex.
Or happier. Does it matter how I feel? Now intimates a time
or a condensation of acceptance. As though
the plants on my kitchen window have free will.
Someone told me there are babies born without skill
to thrive; I thought of you. I do not believe things happen
for a reason, not always. We are helpless against necessities
where images of time are conjured, not salvaged.