A room, empty and cold.
A daytime moon, cheek
scraped off, hanging by a thread,
looking in at what you do.
You sit on the floor, cross-legged,
folding and refolding
a square of paper, a letter,
white writing like swirling snow
on a scroll. As a child,
didn’t you sit by the window
coaxing raucous paper cranes—
red, green, and yellow—
to fly into a sky of blue?
Now what could you say or do
to make a piece of paper fly away?
You watch your hands,
two birds, shape paper into
a white, diminishing thing.
Here is my heart, you write,
quill sipping ink from a bowl.
Here is my heart.
Take it if you have to.

Two wings beat in your hand.
The injured moon, sheer
as rice paper, slips away.
It is a white, white day.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 4 Number 5, on page 38
Copyright © 2018 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
newcriterion.com/issues/1986/1/february-origami