Cynthia Arrieu-King

In 5000 Years None of This Will Really Matter

I took a thing from my car that wasn’t supposed to be there. I stopped bothering to say hi to my white neighbors because they never say hi back. The cosmos kept blowing up like a snake in a fake peanut brittle box.  I stopped buying corn from the woman at the final stall because she already was constantly complaining about non-problems but then, as I was rearranging my groceries in my tote, squatted down by the corner of the table, she said are you keeping an eye on the something something and I said what and realized she was telling the Amish woman who worked for her to keep an eye out for shoplifters. Mopping the cool of the browbeater. Block me or I’ll block you first. I saw us eating pizza sleepily while on the timeline of the cosmos, an infinity of dead stretched before us. I would be hard pressed to pick one memory from this life to use as a bridge to oblivion. Walking in a cold meadow after a swim. Sitting on my dad’s chest as an infant. Laughing so hard with Jenny we couldn’t breathe, throwing stuffed animals. A made-up game.

Very British Problems

I’m in the house I grew up in hoping not to attract notice. One other person in the house: not seen for days. I’m not the least bit British but I know all their novels. Approaching the aqueducts of yore or I can’t believe someone came over for a visit and looked in our fridge. The difference in British facial expressions between I love you and I’m sad barely perceptible. The things they did to the Kenyans. What the Kenyans did back. The upstairs is full of novels about heaths and moors. By and large, everyone in the books drinks tea, chases sails, goes for broke with consumption, and dies of spontaneous combustion. I bevel the chimney lock and no birds come into the fireplace anymore. We have a wreath of pinecones offset with a red velvet bow older than I am. Let’s be honest, no one wants this house despite my asking the lawyer how to divide it.


Two Kinds of Forgetting

You sit reading a novel written by a man on the other side of the world and you eat cod for dinner. I say the novel and cod are the high life and you say you would rather swim with fish underwater. Winter came back after a week of blossoms and I am caught without a coat. An iced weeping willow by the highway looks like someone threw tinsel at oblivion. You dream small fish in the shape of a big fish: you’re also a fish, nothing but tuck and roll, flashing in the depths. These horse chestnuts have dropped their leaves and I consult an atlas indoors about when their small green hands will appear. You post a video of an underwater wall overgrown with kelp. Murakami writes another novel by instinct. Pines keep their needles in a process wordless and rustless. Forgetting settles into surviving. You go outdoors. I go indoors where everyone's watching the game or putting an apple in plastic.

Cynthia Arrieu-King's books include People are Tiny in Paintings of China (Octopus 2010), Manifest selected by Harryette Mullen for the Gatewood Prize (Switchback 2013), and a collaborative book of poems written with the late Hillary Gravendyk, Unlikely Conditions (1913 Press 2016). She also edited an Asian Anglophone anthology-sized issue of dusie, issue 19 (2016).