Ruth Foley


                Spreading is the Nature of Wood
                                                 Tang Rongchuan

Your liver is wood, a barrel for blood,
where the fire holds warm but not
searing. Your liver floats like wood,
on the air from your lungs or the blood,
burns like wood in a fire, replenishes
like wood in a grove. It stretches
like wood in water. It bursts like wood
under pressure. Your liver grows
like wood, spreading and contracting,
storing. In Massachusetts, the leaves
are off the maples. Your liver is oak,
it filters your blood like rain through
the leaves it clutches even in January.
It sprouts acorns and will not let them drop.


I fill my hours with mantras. Now I understand how
days can burgeon in a palm, by what means they
billow and contract and pass unchanged. You are not
mine and I am untouchably yours and all my repetition
cannot make it otherwise. This time is ink that stains
between my fingers. I wait it out pretending I am blind.
Your voice could be coming from beside me. The hand
at my throat could be yours. You are speaking and I

am making some proper reply and we could be anywhere
but in our isolations and when I open my eyes there
you will be with the lake a window behind you and we
will spin the earth around us in all its useless disregard
and this wasted time will be made worthwhile and still
you are not mine you are not mine you are not mine.

Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including Antiphon, The Bellingham Review, The Louisville Review, and Nonbinary Review. Her chapbook Dear Turquoise is available from Dancing Girl Press. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.