C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

Timezones; The Anatomy of a Mandible; From an Epitaph...

By: Adriana Rewald


Timezones


I must forgive those

of single-zoned mind

when they forget

my temporal existence

revolves around the sun,

and not their Sunday

afternoon convenience.

Every call involves

calculations. Charts

to determine who’s in what

state of mind

when: Venn diagram days

with slivered overlap,

cut-offs and ungodly

hours to consider.

The meaning of connection

Dopplered by both space

and time here, varied

as the languages we do

and don’t and try

and fail to speak.




The Anatomy of a Mandible


Of course my jaws aren’t cookie cutter

but they still have a spot to be hit.

Needle-deep in muscle spitting

out its payload the numbness spread

up my cheekbone. Tap-tap, nothing,

tap-tap. Odd to feel from only one

nerveside, the other switched off.

So, I was eating stroganoff

with only half a tongue at lunch

that day. Careful not to catch a layer

of cheek between teeth with the noodle.


I leave dentistry to the imagination,

considering sightlines, keeping

the biggest instruments mysterious (even

when they’re already inside). Tilting

the head this way, opening wide, rolls eyes

away from the action. My understanding

of my own mouth exists in a mirror

universe where to engage the hinge

enough to see all the spots plastered,

or openly decaying, is work. Hard work

and exhausting. Better to just use my body

parts as I have always done and leave

the rest to someone else to sort out.







From an Epitaph Found in the Foreigner’s Cemetery on Changzhou Island

Under this Stone

Lieth Interred a man who sailed into a port where he most likely didn’t know the

language. Though perhaps I am being overly-critical, as

often happens since I arrived in this port myself, not

knowing the language. Only I came by airplane, and

with a pandemic breathing down my neck. So, that’s

different, right?

The Body of Cap. Daniel Webb

of the London East India Ship

Whose Death, I imagine, must have been something of a profound

tragedy to whoever commissioned this inscription. Or

they were fulfilling some order delegated to prove their

honor for a man of great privilege. Top dog on an armed

merchantman, a large, muscular ship, full of large,

muscular assumptions.

Will be most severely lamented

By all that ever knew him Captain Daniel, I imagine, did not bathe very often, and

probably had a wife in England to whom he was

unfailingly unfaithful. And yet, here he is being clicked

through search engines 240 years later, though the

empire he served and the empire that issued his customs

clearance are both now just as dead as he*

He was Modest

Mild Humane Affable and Liberal

A Faithful Friend

A Good Man There’s no arguing with a tombstone when no other

records are easily searchable on the internet. Hard not to

wonder what the words humane and liberal meant to an

Englishman running a wealthy trading vessel in a city

where to this day there are arguments about whether

they were ever really colonized. Technically –

technically – said the Englishman over a third drink at

Hooley’s Irish Pub in Tianhe in early 2021, his Chinese

university students can’t whinge about being colonized,

since Britain never conquered the whole of China. They

were just in Canton. You have to be a country to be

colonized, according to this professor.

As no one stood higher in the esteem

of his Brother Officers Hard not to wonder upon what was this esteem built? I

find myself questioning every aspect of history these

days, to the chagrin of certain contemporary British men

living in Guangzhou who are weary of all this new

political correctness and undermining of a perfectly

good historical and literary canon. A canon which they

can magnanimously bestow upon their star-struck

students, being uniquely qualified to do so, keepers of

the history written by their ancestors.**

But back to Captain Daniel. Who crashed his ship into the HMS

Russell off the coast of St. Helena, 2 years and 14,000

kilometers from where he would wind up dead. Some captain

he must have been. Though it could have been the Russell’s

fault; the records aren’t very clear on that.

His loss to them

Will be sincerely felt

and most heartily deplored

Who loved you so much, Danny Boy? Who went to the trouble

of crafting this oblong ode? It lasted long enough to be

forgotten and rediscovered in the right now that will one day be

back then. And those of us who get starry-eyed with history take

what we can from your incomplete information etched into

stone on a hill on an island in the Pearl River Delta, where

European crews hired local sailors to help them navigate the

sinewed riverways, to dock at an ancient port and work through

customs, unload their Western stock and buy up a cargo of

goods that was sure to bring a profit back home.

He died at Canton the 1st of Dec 1780

in the 38th year of his Age

Nothing here says the London ever made it to Canton, only that

he did, and that he was once its captain. Daniel Webb, did you

resign in disgrace and abscond to the Orient? Did you fall in

love there? Did that person know how it broke you to lose all

that capped your manhood? Did they try to reboot your image

in the wake of your death? A rebranding of the canon to satiate

a restless soul? A rewriting of history no one could question?

I’ll give you this: in a time where few people lived past forty,

Captain Daniel must have been particularly spry, to have made

it halfway around the world before having the audacity to up

and die.

Of all the reasons to be left behind, that is perhaps the most sensible one.





 

Adriana Rewald (she/her) is a writer and translator who was born in Detroit and raised in Warsaw, Poland. She received her MFA from Hollins University and her poetry has appeared in Artemis, Toho, Poets Reading the News, High Shelf, and on poets.org. While her home bases are in Michigan and Poland, her work as an international school teacher has taken her to South Korea, Serbia, and, currently, China.

*Meaning: remains left to be found, to influence and intrigue.

Engraved nostalgia for the entities history deemed worthy of remembrance.

**(After Hooley’s there was no second date, by mutual ghosting.)