The Shanghai Excursion

Stephanie Guo, the marzipan-loving flute player, takes us on a trip through a Shanghai market.

Wreathed in white space,
I ask you
To stencil me in

 

(teach me the ways
of the modern woman)

..
…..
……….
……………….
……………………..
……………….
……….
…..
..

And you

All but refuse. for

futile is the woman
who cannot strut about
a crowded east-asian fish market
in six-inch stiletto heels.

hawkers may beckon,
but she remains a miserly vale.
no tip, no bag, no purchase:
you, seller. you clearly rigged the scale.

1,000% discount and counting,
she saunters away,
balances a tottering tray of dimsum
with a menagerie of goldfish:
polite curios for the little cousins.

(At the end of the New Year celebrations,
She’ll be in charge of clearing out
The fish tank in
Remarkably inauspicious
Black bags.)

in a city where six-hour grocery trips
are the norm,
more futile is the woman
who smells of fresh tilapia
at the end of said time interval.

(six times sixty
is three-sixty, did you know that?)

and – and –
in case you’ve forgotten:

most futile
is the woman
who cannot taste a rhetorical question

at the tip of her own tongue

 

Ekphrasis (The Portrait)

Talking to inanimate objects is something that Stephanie Guo, the marzipan-loving flute-player, understands.

Visual art by Sana Liu

The portrait is done. I eat
A sandwich, down a coffee,
Break my fast.

Halfway through the third croissant,
The girl in the painting –
She’s a striking girl, with wry lips
And gray eyes –
Suddenly parts her lips
And speaks.

I don’t remember my childhood,
She murmurs. I have lanky arms
And a moony face and all I do

All day long is sit in an oil painting
And grimace at this paltry flower.
I must’ve lost my memories
After someone pushed me
Down a gorge.

Did you fish me out?
To which I reply,

No. I down another coffee,
Grab my paintbrush,
Blot her lips.

She faces the sky now,
A wayward diverge,
The long and unbroken dirge.